Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from the boys!

By overwhelming popular demand we again present this masterful sonnet from "the people's poet", Arnold Schnabel, originally published in the Olney Times for January 4, 1963; two weeks later Arnold would be languishing in a padded cell at the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital at Byberry.

If the present poem appears particularly gloomy even for this time of the year, please remember that this particular new year's eve was a mere two months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which the destruction of mankind suddenly loomed as a very actual possibility, and concerning the horror of which Arnold Schnabel had already versified so beautifully.

(The “Chew Avenue” of the title refers to the location -- on the corner of Chew and Lawrence, in the Olney section of Philadelphia -- of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, now sadly defunct.)

New Year’s Eve on Chew Avenue

It’s New Year’s Eve, it seems we’ve made it,
If only barely, through another year;
The terror, if not gone, has abated
Into a dull and grey persistent fear.
My mother’s sound asleep by eleven,
So I go to the VFW,
Shove to the bar of this drunkard’s heaven,
And say, “Pat, if you please, I’ll trouble you
For a Schmidt’s, backed with an Old Forester,
And keep them coming till I say not to,
Or until you throw me out; whatever;
Do what your conscience says that you’ve got to.”
I take that first sacred drink of cold beer:
“Happy new (let’s hope it’s not our last) year.”

(Republished with the kind permission of the Arnold Schnabel Society of Philadelphia, PA. Kindly look to the right hand side of this page for a listing of links to many other fine poems by Arnold Schnabel, many of them suitable for recitations and toasts at family, business or social gatherings, weddings, and funerals during this holiday season. Be sure also to visit our ongoing serialization of Arnold's classic memoir Railroad Train to Heaven.*)

*"I read a page or two every night before retiring." -- Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 179: new day

In our previous episode our author Arnold Schnabel, at the end of a very long Saturday in August of 1963, retired to his humble army cot in the attic of his aunts’ boarding house in Cape May, New Jersey, and, after reading several pages of Ye Cannot Quench (that bulky and now sadly-obscure novel of 1950s New York, given to him by its author, the hot-blooded novelist Gertrude Evans, a novel which includes the epic poem of 1950s New York The Brawny Embraces), finally drifted off into sleep...

(Go here to revisit the first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning 37-volume masterpiece, #97 on Reader’s Digest’s "101 Notable Memoirs of the Year".)

I woke up, ravenous, to the sound of spattering rain and of wind.

Somehow I had never gotten that last little bite to eat that I had wanted last night, that final ham-and-cheese sandwich or left-over platter of sauerbraten and potatoes (perhaps chased with a quart of milk and some apple pie) which is always a sound idea after a late Saturday night.

But today was Sunday. My aunts and mother would be laying out an especially sumptuous breakfast, as they did every Sunday after their return from eight o’clock mass, just in time for my return from the nine o’clock (or the ten, depending on my hangover status) -- luscious piles of homemade blutwurst, stacks of buttery pancakes (made with the buckwheat flour they ground themselves with an enormous engraved cast-iron hand-cranked mill that pre-dated the discovery of electricity by half a century or so) and a plate of creamy scrambled eggs from the three fat hens kept in the pen out back behind the shower stalls, all of it washed down with copious cups of our family blend of coffee, strong and black (and laced as likely as not for my morning-after benefit with the schnapps the sisters distilled themselves out of some ancestral compulsion but to my knowledge never drank themselves -- no matter, more for me) followed with a thick slice of käsekuchen warm from the oven and maybe just a small glass of kirsch, also homemade...

I looked out the screen of my small window, thick rain splattering against it, the odd tiny sputter of spray landing gently on my face.

So, another rainy August day. Too bad for the vacationers, especially the ones with children, and indeed far worse for the children themselves who wanted only to leap madly about like savages in the burning sunlight on the beach all day, but were now doomed to be dragged howling through one tedious gift shop after another --

My railwayman’s internal clock told me it was roughly nine o’clock, so I’d had five and a half hours sleep or so; I could make up the difference with a good nap this afternoon, after my work session with Larry, provided we actually had a work session. Considering the state I had last seen him in, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gave us the day off, which would be fine by me.

The thing to do now was go downstairs and eat. My mother and aunts would assume I was going to the ten o’clock mass. But, having slept on the matter, I decided right there and then that -- for the first time in my life, not excluding my eleven months of wartime service in the European Theatre of Operations -- I would forgo Sunday mass.

After all, was I not a personal friend of -- well, I preferred to think of him as he preferred to be called: “Josh”. What was the point of my going to church to attempt to commune with the son of God when I could merely stroll over to the Chalfonte and see him in person?

Of course I wouldn’t tell my mother and aunts I was skipping mass; they would be giving me enough trouble as it was for sleeping late and eating breakfast before mass instead of afterwards like a decent Catholic.

No, I would set forth in my Sunday best with an umbrella, but instead of going to church perhaps I would walk over to the jewelry shop and say hello to Elektra. I could stand there and watch her out of the side of my eye as she waited on customers. And, who knows, if it was slow, or if she could get one of her friends to cover for her, perhaps she and I could go even upstairs for a bit. After all, I wasn’t due to meet Larry before 10:30 or so, and he probably wouldn’t mind if I were a half-hour late, it would give him more time to wake up and rejuvenate, and if I knew Larry he wouldn’t mind if I were as much as an hour late if he knew the reason for my tardiness.

I felt certain that Josh himself would approve of a visit with Elektra as an alternative to mass...

Before getting out of bed I performed my routine hangover check, like a pilot checking his instruments and gauges before take-off:

Head: not too bad, a slightly constricted feeling, as if my brain had swollen a size or two and was pressing against the inside of my skull, trying gently to burst out like a chick from its shell.

Stomach: not bad, not bad, at all, no nausea, just this overpowering desire to be fed, soon, and in great quantities.

General disposition: mild malaise, but no worse than on many many other weekend mornings I had faced, and not a few weekday ones.

I remembered that I had scraped my arms and knees on the pavement, but these scrapes and their attendant bruises did not actively pain me, at least not yet, anyway.

There was something else different within the universe of myself, and it took me a few moments to realize what it was, as the rain clattered down outside and the wind thrashed the wet leaves of the oak outside my window, and then it hit me: I had no need or desire to cough, and -- wonder of wonders and concomitantly -- I had not the slightest desire or need for a cigarette. So I had that going for me.

Anyway, first things first, get into some clothes, go downstairs, wolf down some food, take a quick shower, climb into the Sunday suit and go to “mass”.

This plan shouldn’t be too hard to carry out, or so I thought.

But how wrong I was to think that, how terribly wrong, because as I threw aside the sheet and turned over to get out of bed I finally realized that I was not alone, no, for lying next to me facing away on her side lay a sleeping naked woman.

(Continued here, et ad astram.)

(Please look to the right hand column of this page to find what quite often may be a current list of links to all other available chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven©. “The perfect book to take along to the pen after the feds finally catch up with you.” -- Bernie Madoff.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Arnold Schnabel Christmas sonnet

By popular demand we re-broadcast this beloved poem from the battered Royal portable of Arnold Schnabel, first published in the special "Holiday Fun" issue of the Olney Times in December, 1962.

“Christmas Eve in Olney

It’s Christmas Eve, the factories are closed,
The boys from Heintz and Budd and Tastykake*
Are free, the Proctor & Schwartz crew have hosed
Themselves down and gone home, each lad to take
Out his one good suit from off the Sears rack,
A crisp white shirt with tab collar from Krass
A thin dark tie, Thom McAn shoes of black;
Splash some Old Spice, then off to Midnight Mass;
But first a brief stop, but just for the one
At the Green Parrot, the Huddle, or Pat’s,
And perhaps also a shot, one and done,
Make it Four Roses, and backed with a Blatz;
Five to midnight, we have time for one more --
Who would dare bar us from Helena’s door?

*"Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake." -- Editor
(Please look to the right hand column of this page to find a listing of links to many other fine poems of Arnold Schnabel, many of them suitable for declamation at holiday dinners.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas, goddammit!

I shall be visiting family this week in historic Cape May County, New Jersey, so we will probably have no new posts until after next weekend, at which time you may expect more lovely new adventures from those rascals Arnold and Buddy and all the rest of the gang.

Happy Holidays to all my lovely readers!

"The boys in the NYPD choir were singing 'Galway Bay'
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day..."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 29: go now?

When last we saw our hero, that middle-aged Romeo named Buddy Best, he was sitting in his car outside his house on North Ivar Avenue in Hollywood, USA, waiting, while his would-be young paramour Cordelia speaks with Buddy’s daughter Liz and his son Philip, who has very recently surprised Buddy and Cordelia in not-quite flagrante delicto...

(Go here to go to read our previous thrilling chapter, or if you must, click here to go back to the beginning of this “rollicking romp of a really rip-roaring (as well as rip-snorting) good read” -- (J.J. Hunsecker, in Women’s Wear Daily.)

The three of them were all standing by the kitchen counter. Philip had a bottle of Anchor Steam, the girls were sharing a big bottle of Diet Coke, and they were all smoking cigarettes.

“Dad,” said Philip, “I was just getting ready to come out and get you.”

“Ah,” said Buddy.

“I’m sorry, Buddy,” said Cordelia. “We got to talking.”

“It’s our fault, Dad,” said Liz.

“You want a beer, Dad?” said Philip.

“Uh,” said Buddy, “Cordelia, don’t you have a dance class?”

“Oh, what kind of dance do you take?” asked Liz.

“Modern,” said Cordelia, “but I’ve taken all kinds --”

“I should join up,” said Liz. “I really need the exercise, I am so out of shape.”

“No you’re not,” said Cordelia.

“Oh, yes, I am. Look at my big ass --”

“Oh, please, Liz, my ass is twice the size of yours.”

“Oh it is not, you look terrific.”

“Do you think so? I really want to lose like fifteen pounds, but --”


“Well, like twelve?”

“You’re perfect! Philip, tell her.”

“She looked okay to me,” said Philip. “I mean, you look okay, uh, Dad, why don’t you have a beer?”

“Well -- uh, Cordelia, so the, uh, dance class is uh --”

“I can go to a later one.”


“Yeah, the way they work it at this place it’s a set price per month and you can go whenever, so there’s one at --”

“I should go there,” said Liz. “Where is it?”

“Down in Venice?”

“Like if I had somebody to go with maybe I wouldn’t blow it off.”

Buddy went over to the range and picked up the kettle.

“Dad,” said Liz, “do you want me to make you some coffee?”

“No, that’s okay, I’m gonna make some tea.”

“Let me, Dad.”

“No, that’s okay, sweety.”

Buddy was a little particular about his tea. After his two-week post-Joan self-pity binge he had gone to the Farmer’s Market and bought this good Irish breakfast tea, and he liked to do it his way. He filled the kettle with spring water and put it on the fire. He measured some tea into the filter of his teapot. Then he looked out the window into his back yard, all shimmering in the afternoon light. The kids had sat down as one at the kitchen table and were talking about gyms and workouts. His cellphone buzzed and he took it out; it was the office.


“Buddy, where the hell are you?” said Debbie.

“I’m home. Why?” he said and then he remembered -- “Oh, Christ, the meeting with what-the-fuck’s-his-name --” The jerk from HBO. No, Showtime -- “Is he there?”

“Yeah, in the other room. We’re waiting.”

Buddy headed through the kitchen and out the door into the sunlight, saying:


“I called your cell and left a message. Did you have it turned off?”

“Um -- well --”

“So I called Musso’s and they said you hadn’t been there.”

“No, we didn’t, I didn’t, we didn’t, uh, go there.”

“Where did you --? What did you --?”

“Okay, listen, Deb. Tell the guy I had a family emergency --”

“Oh, come on --”

“No, come to think of it, look, just tell him the truth. I spaced.”

“Okay. Do you want me to ask him to wait?”

“No, just have the meeting without me. Whatever you and Harvey decide is fine.”


“You can call me an asshole now.”


“All right. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Wait, Harvey’s coming out.”

“Tell him I’ll see him tomorrow too.”

“Wait,” she said.

“Hey, Buddy.”

“Yeah, sorry, Harve.”

“Don’t worry about it. How’d it go?”

“How’d what go?”

“Your lunch.”

“Lunch was fine.”

“Great. Hey, wait a minute. Deb, go in there, tell him I’ll be right in.” Buddy heard Debbie’s and Marlene’s voices in the background, and then Harvey spoke into the phone again, in a quieter voice. “So, how’d it go?”



“I just spaced, Harve. Do the meeting without me.”

“Yeah, but how’d it go? What’s up with the Mariner’s daughter? Where are you, anyway?”

“I’m at home.”

“Is she there?”

“Uh, look, Harve, can we not talk about this?”

“Oh, so there is something to talk about. That’s great.”

“Okay, Harve, look, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“So she is there.”

“Harve --”

“Dude --”


“I’ve just got one request.”


“Put it in once for me, pal.”

Buddy folded up the phone. He realized that he was looking at the garden, and that Liz had made it look nice again. The freeway hummed, the little birdies chirped. Cordelia was sitting in there in the kitchen with his son and daughter. What he wanted to do was to walk around to the front of the house, go inside and go upstairs, go to his room, lock the door, close the curtains and take to his bed with a pillow over his head. But of course he couldn’t do that.


“So, Cordelia,” said Philip, “what’s up with you and Dad?”

“Philip!” said Liz.


“Shut the fuck up!”

“It’s okay, Liz,” said Cordelia.

“No it isn’t. You don’t have to tell him anything.”

“God, you’re such a hypocrite, Liz,” said Philip.

“Fuck you!”

“Uh, no, uh, fuck you?”

“I’ll slap you.”

“Oh, help.”


“So, Cordelia,” said Philip, “back to you.”


“You and Dad?”

Liz glared at Philip. Cordelia put her hand on Liz’s.

“Liz, really, it’s okay.”

“Fine,” said Liz, “but he’s still a jerk.”

“So?” said Philip.

“Well,” said Cordelia, “it’s kind of a strange story.”

“Great,” said Philip.

“It’s strange because of who I am.”

The kettle began to whistle.

“Oh, I’ll get that,” said Cordelia, starting to get up.

“No, I’ve got it,” said Liz, waving Cordelia down and getting up herself. “Go on.”

“I’ll wait till you get it,” said Cordelia.

Liz went over to the range and, since Cordelia was looking at Liz, Philip admired Cordelia’s bosom and the little tattoo of some mysterious object which tantalizingly hove into and out of sight from under the top of her dress depending on Cordelia’s breathing and her posture of the moment. Cordelia glanced back and busted him, they both smiled weakly.

Buddy came in.

“Oh, hi, Dad,” said Liz. “I’ve got your tea for you.”

She studiously poured hot water into the teapot, and Philip and Cordelia silently looked at the table top.

Deirdre appeared in the kitchen doorway. Why was she home so early? Or did she always get home this early on whatever day today was?

“Hi, everybody,” she said. “You’re back,” she said to Liz and Philip. “Hello, I’m Deirdre,” she said to Cordelia. “Who are you?


They ordered pizza, they ate and talked, and then everybody helped move Liz’s stuff in from the rental truck. Cordelia went up to Liz’s room with Deirdre to help Liz put her stuff away, and Buddy and Philip cleared the table and washed the dishes.

Buddy told Philip about the new concept for Return to Death Island Part III.

“So,” said Philip, “it’s now gonna be like Triggerwoman III?”

“Right, except Triggerwoman II isn’t called Triggerwoman II anymore. We gotta think of some new title.”


“So, you wanta make a few bucks and give the script another pass, make it more like a sequel to Triggerwoman II which isn’t Triggerwoman II anymore? I’ll give you the other script and a rough cut on DVD to watch.”


“You know, just change it so the two leads are the same characters, shouldn’t be too hard to do.”

“I’m your man, Dad.”

They went out to sit by the pool with a couple of beers. Ming had come out with them and she jumped up onto Buddy’s lap.

“Oh, by the way --” said Philip. “Cordelia?”


“She rocks, Dad.”

Buddy didn’t say anything. Sunlight shimmered in the garden and on the tiles, sparkled in the pool.

“I mean she totally rocks,” said Philip.

“I know she rocks. But dig. She’s not my girlfriend, Philip.”

“That’s cool. I’m just saying she rocks. Like, pass her on to me when you’re finished, dude.”

Buddy turned and looked at Philip, didn’t say anything, and looked away. People were killing each other in Iraq.

“How did you meet her, Dad, anyway?”

Buddy rubbed Ming’s head.

“That -- is kind of strange.”

The door behind them opened.

“Hey, Buddy,” said Cordelia.

He twisted around.

“I guess I should go now,” she said.

(Continued here, and until the chickens come home to roost.)

(Please go to the right hand column of this page to find a listing of links to all other presently-available episodes of Uncle Buddy’s House™; a Larry Winchester Production, filmed on location in and around Los Angeles, California, and at Monument Pictures Studios in Hollywood.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 178: to bed

In our previous chapter our hero Arnold Schnabel at long last made it back to his humble attic room atop his aunts’ shambling old boarding house in the quaint seaside resort of Cape May, New Jersey, in the wee small hours of August 11, 1963...

(Click here to return to the first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning multi-volume masterwork. “I should sooner go without my make-up and a change of clean linen than to travel anywhere without a Schnabel in my purse.” -- Sarah Palin, in conversation with Sir Kenneth Clark.)

I undressed down to my boxer shorts, turned out the lights and got into my narrow bed.

It seemed absurd to say my prayers after spending a good deal of the evening with the son of God himself, so I didn’t bother.

(And, besides, down in Miss Evans’s room hadn’t I just finished offering a quick prayer to his father? A prayer which indeed it seemed he had answered in an agreeable fashion.)

It had been another long and eventful day, to say the least.

I had traveled in time, I had inhabited a stranger’s body, I had consorted with the aforementioned son of the deity, I had flown through the air, I had made love twice if memory served, I had been bruised and scraped and had just barely avoided personal extinction three or four or was it five times, I had done battle with and had triumphed over the devil and at least one of his minions, I had also incidentally, among many other strange and wonderful adventures (and if I may be so immodest as to say so myself) helped to save the entire universe from destruction -- and, perhaps most remarkable of all, I had, after that first coughing-fit-inducing Pall Mall in the morning, successfully gone through the entire day without another cigarette.

This was not a life I had ever expected or hoped to have, but, all in all, taking one thing with another, it definitely beat being back in the nut house, and it definitely beat working on the railroad and living my grey little life with my mother back in Olney...

As so often happens, I had gone to bed on the verge of passing out, but now that I finally lay there safely I couldn’t shut off my brain.

Outside the screening of my little casement window the leaves of the big old oak tree out there glinted in the streetlamp light.

I could sense the breathing of all the other souls in this house, some of whom I just now realize I have never even mentioned in these memoirs. Besides my own kin and Miss Evans and Mr. and Mrs. DeVore -- and besides Mrs. and Miss Rathbone, who had the little cottage out back -- there were others, none of whom I knew well, and none of whom I had any desire to know better, although in fact there were several I wished I knew even less than I did. Perhaps these now nameless people will appear in later chapters of these memoirs, but for now we will pass over them in silence.

Speaking of this house’s other souls, and still speaking of my insomnia, I suddenly remembered Miss Evans’s book. If that couldn’t put me to sleep then nothing could, so I switched on my bedside lamp, adjusted my pillows against the wall, and picked up Ye Cannot Quench. I would much rather have read my Patricia Highsmith novel, but the problem was that that book was actually interesting, and would only serve to keep me awake. But before I dived in to Miss Evans’s novel I remembered the third book I was currently reading, The Waste Land. In its own exalted way that slender volume if only by the nature of its being poetry should ipso facto be more soporific than even Miss Evans’s enormous tome; however, T.S. Eliot did not reside in this house (although I wouldn’t put it past him if he did show up) whereas Gertrude Evans did, and it seemed that the least I could do after rebuffing her advances was to try to make some headway in her book.

I opened it up to where I’d left my marker. I’d only gotten about twenty pages in, and I still had five or six hundred to go. How Miss Evans was going to fill up all those pages I had no idea.

I tried to recall what had happened already. A girl named Emily who comes to New York City from West Virginia. An old rag-and-bones woman in a coffee shop who tells Emily that she (Emily) will find true love. Emily gets a job at a publisher’s, and there’s a Rock Hudson sort of publisher’s son there, named -- what? I skipped back a bit. Julian, Julian Smythe. It occurred to me that you never actually met people with names like Julian Smythe in real life (or at least I never met them) but then it also occurred to me that that was okay. Oh, right, and there was this Montgomery Clift-type poet cabdriver guy with another novel-character name -- Porter Walker. Anyway, Emily wound up staying at this Porter guy’s place in Greenwich Village after he helped her move into her new apartment, the purported reason for her staying over being that she didn’t have a bed yet. They make love, which stretched out over five or six pages, most of which was Emily remembering some other guy back in West Virginia, and then Porter falls asleep, and Emily resumes reading his epic poem of New York City, The Brawny Embraces (which he doesn’t know she is reading as an assignment from the Rock Hudson guy).

And that’s where I had left off, with Emily reading this poem. I looked ahead a little. This bit of the poem went on for about four or five pages. At this rate maybe I should have just gone with The Waste Land. But I felt duty-bound to give it a go.

Here’s some of what I read, copied out verbatim:

I strike my beer bottle down upon the table like a gavel:
“Silence, you fools!” I cry. “Listen to these cats wail!
Still your fat tongues and open your flabby ears,
For these dusky Negroes sing of a truth we cannot grasp
With our lily-white minds!”
All too soon a great bartender heaves me up, drags
Me to the door and tosses me out into the humid street,
Into the flyblown night, and I stumble across the pavement
And grab hold of a streetlamp’s hard metal shaft;
“Fools!” I cry, and bang my forehead against the unforgiving steel,
“Ow!” I cry, and then I cry hot tears, not only from the physical pain
But from the spiritual torment, that I am condemned
To walk among the living dead;
But then I see the beat cop, twirling his baton,
And so quickly I pull myself together and walk away,
Whistling nonchalantly;
I must find another joint with cool hot jazz, one
From which I have not been flagged, and there
I shall sit quietly and nurse my Rheingold,
Content to dig those crazy sounds my own way
Even if no one else does; and find one I do,
On ancient Thompson Street, and I find an empty stool,
And I’m digging, et cetera, and so forth,
Bobbing my head (but not too vigorously,
For once one of these sacred cats, a trumpeter called Gabe,
Told me there was nothing sadder than the sight
Of a white cat trying to get down with it)
When a chick asks me for a light.
She seems kind of square, a chick on the make --
Does she not know I am here to dig the magic sounds
And not to make whoopee with some midtown secretary?
But then I notice her friend, a shy girl, with eyes as
Deep and as grey as the fogbanks of dawn…

Fogbanks of dawn? That was the sort of nonsense I used to write, and not all that long ago, either. Well, okay, so the guy was a bad poet. Did that make him a bad person? I wasn’t sure. But on the other hand this Emily girl seemed to think the poem was pretty good. Which didn’t make her a bad person either I supposed, although it did make her a stupid person.

And then I remembered that Emily and Porter weren’t real, they were only characters in a book. Unlike myself, or Miss Evans, or all these other people and creatures who had crowded my day.

But the odd thing was that even Emily and Porter now seemed more real to me than some of these nondescript people staying in this very house.

I read a bit more of Porter’s poem. He, or at any rate the narrator of the poem, falls into a tentative romance with the girl he met in the jazz bar. Her name wasn’t Emily, but it was Emma, and she didn’t work for a publisher, but she did work for a magazine, and she wasn’t from West Virginia but Virginia...

I closed up the book, set it aside and put out the light.

The oak tree outside my little window brushed its leaves softly against the screen.

All in all (and despite the fact that I wasn’t completely discounting the possibility that I had gone hopelessly insane) I had to say that this past day had been the best day of my life so far.

I actually looked forward to this new day that awaited me.

And so I drifted off into sleep.

(Continued here, we have no choice.)

(Kindly go to the right hand side of this page to find an often up-to-date list of links to all other published chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven©, the perfect holiday gift for that special literate someone.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 28: “Deh, vieni...”

Let us rejoin our hero, that middle-aged Lothario Buddy Best, right outside his Depression Era-vintage Mission/Tudor house on North Ivar Avenue, smack in the middle of a strange world called Hollywood...

(Go here to go to review our previous chapter, or here to return to the beginning of this “tale apparently told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying even less than nothing; in other words the perfect book for these dreadful times” -- (J.J. Hunsecker, in Boy’s Life.)

Buddy sat in the car. He had the engine running and the A/C on. What the fuck was she doing?


She had climbed back into the bed and gotten under the covers with him. And okay, she felt good snuggled against him, but --

“Cordelia, we can’t just lie here.”


“We’ve got to get you out of here.”

“Oh, okay,” and she sat up and swung her legs off the bed.

“No, wait, I didn’t mean it like that. I mean, we’ve both got to go.”

“That’s okay, Buddy, I have to go to my dance class,
anyway --”

She bent down and picked her rose-colored panties up off the floor, shook them out, then pulled them on, standing up as she did. (Another mental film clip for Buddy’s old age.)

“Cordelia, what I meant was we’ll both go -- you know --”

“I told you, I have to go to class,” walking over to where her bra lay on the floor.

“Where is it? I’ll drive you.”

“I can take the bus, Buddy, really, it’s okay,” dipping into the matching bra, “I take the bus all the time. I just need to check my schedule for the buses around here --”

And so it went on until they were going downstairs together, or rather Cordelia went down a few steps before Buddy.

At the foot of the stairs Buddy stopped because Cordelia had started in toward the kitchen, which you couldn’t see from here, but from the direction of which he could faintly hear Philip’s and Liz’s voices.

“Cordelia,” he said, in a bad stage whisper. “It’s this way. The front door.”

“I know, “ she stage-whispered professionally while turning, “I just want to apologize first.”

“What? Why?”

“Because, I just want them to know I’m not just a --
just a --”

And she headed on in.

“Wait. Stop.”

She stopped and turned again.

“I can’t face them,” he said, or croaked.

Still stage-whispering:

“Just wait in the car then. I’ll only be a second.”


Buddy had done or tried to do a lot of insane things in his life, but this little escapade, this was right up there, definitely in the top four or five. It was too insane, really, even for him, and he should probably just nip the whole motherfucker in the bud, maybe.

But then if only Philip and Liz hadn’t shown up. It would have been nice to do it just once, even with a condom, if she had found a condom in her bag. Something to hang on to, a special highlight for that old-folks’ home memory-reel.

Buddy had a CD player in his dashboard. He pressed play, and on came Don Giovanni no less, with Raimondi...

The overture, then Leporello bitching about what a pain it was to be a servant, then uh oh, here comes the Don, in trouble again, Donna Anna hot on his ass…

Okay, come to think of it, It wasn’t like any of this really mattered. But wait. Maybe it didn’t matter to him if he acted like a fool, but what about the chick? She was a human being too. He should think about her. But wait. Cordelia was a grown-up. She could make her own decisions. It wasn’t as if he had dragged her into bed with him. But wait. She was the Mariner’s fucking daughter. If she was too wifty to realize that it was not a good idea for her to fool around with her father’s girlfriend’s middle-aged husband then it was up to Buddy to, to...but then after what had just happened she probably wouldn’t ever want to see him again anyway, so, you know, fuck it. And what the hell was she doing in there?

His cellphone buzzed and vibrated in his pocket. He took it out, didn’t recognize the number. He flipped it open.


“Yeah? Buddy?”


“Turn that cheap wailing slut off, willya? I can’t hear.”

Buddy hit pause.



“Joe Morrow.”

“Hi, Joe, how ya doin’?”

“Good, good. Whatcha doin’?”

“Yanking my chain.”

“Oh, ya want me to call back?”

“No, no, I can yank and talk to you, Joe.”

“Great. So, look, Bud, we read that girl whose tape you sent over.”

“Ah, good.”



“Right, fuck me -- Cordelia -- that movie sucked.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“But she was pretty good in it.”


“So we read her.”

“Good, thanks.”

“And she was good. She read really well.”

“Cool, I’m glad to hear it.”

“Buddy, can I ask you a question?”


“Are you fucking her?”

Only the smallest beat here.




“Oh. Well, are you trying to fuck her? I mean is that why --”

“Joe, she’s just a kid I’m trying to help. She’s sort of a -- friend of the family.”

“Ah, a friend.”

“Yeah, a friend.”

“Like a friend of your daughter’s, or --”

“Look, Joe, she’s a friend, okay? I thought I’d try to help her out.”

“Couldn’t you give her a part in one of your --”

“Sure I could, and maybe I will, but we’re not shooting anything right now, and you are, so, there you go.”

“Right. So, Buddy, let me ask you another question.”

“Sure, Joe.”

“Would you mind if I -- you know --”

“Fucked her?”

“Well, you know, I just didn’t want to step onto your territory if it were to come to that, you know --”


“Yeah, Bud.”

“She’s a grown woman, she can make her own choices.”


“If you want to make a play for her go right ahead.”

“Okay, that’s all --”

“But, Joe --”

“Yeah, Bud.”

“If I find out you’ve tried to pull some of your sleazy-ass shit on her I will personally come over and --"

“Yo, Bud --”


“Lighten up.”

Buddy didn’t say anything.

“So you’re really not fucking her?”



“Shut the fuck up about it.”


“Okay, then.”

“So,” said Joe, as if they had just been discussing the weather, “tomorrow we have her reading with Chris Lambert.”


“We’re reading her for the female lead.”

“No kidding.”

“Yeah. We thought we had Kari Wührer, but --”


“Let me ask you just one more question though.”

“Sure,” said Buddy.

“Is she a psycho?”


“Uh, yeah.”

“She’s a hell of a lot less psycho than you are, Joe.”

“She gave such a good reading, but she was a little weird. Almost like she didn’t give a fuck or something.”

“Maybe she doesn’t. It’s a Northwest Mountie vampire movie, Joe.”

“True. You got a point.”

“Okay, well, look, Joe, even if you are a sleazebag, thanks for giving her the reading.”

“No problem. She’s -- are those her real breasts?”


“In that nude scene in that movie her breasts looked real. I mean really nice, but real, too. You don’t see that very often. Nice but real.” Buddy said nothing to this. “So,” said Joe, “how’s Joan?”

“Joan’s fine. How’s --”

What the fuck was her name --

“Mamie,” said Joe.

“Yeah, Mamie.”

She’s fine.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to you later then, Joe.”

“Thanks, Bud. So Buddy, really, you’re really not --”

Buddy took the phone away from his ear. The little screen told him he had a new voice message and that he had the choice of listening to it or ignoring it. Joe was still talking away. Buddy closed the phone, then put it back into his pocket.

(Continued here, because legions of fervent fans demand it.)

(Kindly look to the right hand column of this page to find a listing of links to many other fine chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™; when printed out on cheap copy paper these make the perfect recession stocking stuffers!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 177: big splash

When last we saw the rhyming brakeman Arnold Schnabel his nemesis (well, one of his nemeses -- for such a nice guy he seems to have a lot of them) that hot-blooded novelist Gertrude Evans was dragging him by the shoulders toward the door of her apartment in Arnold’s aunts’ big old rooming-house in Cape May, NJ, at approximately 3:30 AM on the 11th of August, 1963...

(Click here to read our previous episode, or go here to return to the first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning memoir. “Surely a masterwork to which people of all creeds -- and even those who have none -- may turn for wisdom, inspiration and comfort as our world goes merrily to hell in a hand basket.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, in The Catholic Standard & Times.)

Uselessly my fingers scrabbled at the scrupulously polished floor.

I may not have known much but what I did know was that I couldn’t allow her to get me into her room.

I went limp, hoping to lull her into a false sense of victory as she pulled me along like a sack of potatoes, and I waited till she let go her left hand so that she could open the door, which like all the doors in my aunts’ house, had been left unlocked. Then, as she pushed the door open, I twisted out of the grasp of her right hand, and turned onto my knee – unfortunately my more badly-injured right knee – and, stifling a grown of agony, once again I collapsed, this time face-first onto the floor.

“Stop struggling,” she whispered. “You’ll hurt yourself.”

She took hold of my left arm with both her hands and quickly dragged me across the threshold, and although I tried to grab onto the door jamb with my free hand, she simply gave my other arm a sharp twist and a good yank and I lost my grip.

Once she had me well in she shut the door with her foot and then hauled me over next to her bed.

“All right,” she said, “now let’s take a look at your boo-boos." She tossed her purse to the floor. "Come on, help me get you onto the bed.”

I got up onto one knee, my less-damaged left one this time.

“Can’t we have a little light?” I asked.

“What for?”

“So you can see.”

“See what?”

“My, uh, boo-boos?”

“Oh, right.”

I was hoping to make a dash for the door while she switched on a lamp, but she kept hold of my left arm with one hand while she reached over to the tasseled lamp by her bed and pulled the cord.

“There,” she said. “Light. Now get onto the bed like a good boy.”

With her pulling my arm I got up and sat on the side of the bed.

She finally let go of my arm and stood before me, stretching and flexing the fingers of her hands.

“At long last,” she said.

“Miss Evans,” I said.


“Gertrude. I have to tell you something.”

“No need to tell me, Arnold. Words fail at moments like this. Should I get some iodine and a wet rag now or should we wait until after.”

“After what?”

“I think you know what, you great brute.”

“Gertrude, I’m engaged.”


This kind of lie had worked a month or so ago with that Rhonda or Mona woman, whatever her name was, it was worth a try now.

“Elektra and I, we got engaged tonight.”

“You. And that Greek girl.”

“Well, she’s Jewish actually, but yes, her. And me.”

“And does she know about you and me.”

“What? What about you and me?”

“Our special bond.”

“Um – no,” I said.

“Then it will be just our secret. Lie back now.”

Crossing her arms, she reached down, grabbed a bit of her silvery dress in each hand, and pulled it up over her head.

I figured that the fraction of a second that her garment was over her head would be my last of my last chances, and I made a break for it.

However, even with her eyes covered she was way ahead of me, sticking a foot in my path, sending me once again sprawling to the floor, which at least at this spot was covered with an old woven rug.

I turned over on my side, I saw her toss the dress away, and then, clad only in what I suppose must be called panties, and not unlike the wrestler Haystacks Calhoun performing his dreaded “Big Splash” coup de grâce, she threw herself bodily in my direction.

Meaning no one harm, especially myself, but acting instinctively as God will surely bear witness, I rolled quickly to one side and out of her way as she landed with a thump.

I was about to drag myself to the door, when, glancing back, I saw that Miss Evans was not moving.

Pushing myself up and onto my haunches I made a silent prayer. Josh I knew was no doubt still asleep, and so (never feeling comfortable addressing the Holy Ghost, or Spirit) I addressed his father.

“Please, dear God,” I said (again, silently, I wasn’t that far gone), “please don’t let her be dead. And, if you can find it within the purview of your mercy, also let her not be paralyzed or otherwise seriously injured. On the other hand please let her remain unconscious, but not comatose, until the morning. Amen.”

I shuffled on my aching knees over to her, leaned over.

Thank God, she was breathing.

I ran my hand along her neck. All felt normal. I leaned over farther and, fingering her hair away, I examined her face. She had a very small bump on her forehead.

“Mwa,” she said, her eyes half-opening. “Mwa?”

“It’s okay, Miss Evans,” I said. “We’re just going to put you to bed.”


I got to my feet, and then, reaching down, I lifted her up with my hands beneath her shoulders. For such a strong woman she was really very light. She didn’t struggle, and soon I had her in her bed, her nakedness covered up with a sheet.

“Mwa,” she said again.

“Good night, Miss Evans,” I whispered.

“No, kizz me,” she mumbled.

I relented, gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, she said “mwa” again, and I put out the light and left the room, closing the door behind me.

I limped slowly down the hall. It was a miracle that the whole house was not awake. Come to think of it, the whole house probably was awake.

I made it to the bathroom.

Using wet toilet paper (I didn’t want to leave blood on washcloths or towels) I dabbed at my various scrapes, dropping the wads of paper into the toilet.

I urinated, flushed, washed my hands, and then for good measure I brushed my teeth.

As I brushed I looked at my face in the old mirror, the sort of mirror that makes your face look even more alien than it normally might, as if you’re looking not at your reflection but at a different version of yourself in some other world looking into a similar mirror and seeing this somewhat dubious version of myself that was me.

I rinsed out my mouth, switched off the light, and then waited for a moment before opening the door, listening, just to make sure Miss Evans hadn’t revived and was waiting outside ready to pounce. I heard nothing, only the faint faraway breathing of the ocean from the open bathroom window.

I opened the door, went out and across the hall and up to my attic room.

(Continued here, come hell or high water.)

(Please look to the right hand side of this page for a scrupulously up-to-date listing of links to all other available chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven©, soon to be available in a 24-volume handsomely-bound edition from Funk & Wagnall’s, sold exclusively at better Woolworth’s 5&10s everywhere. Food stamps accepted.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 27: bro and sis

Let us join Philip and Liz in the kitchen of their father’s Mission/Tudor house on North Ivar Avenue, in Hollywood, USA...

(Click here to go to our previous embarrassing episode, or go here to return to the first chapter of this “shocking saga of lust’s labor’s lost in Lala Land” -- (J.J. Hunsecker, in the International Herald Tribune.)

“Dad’s got a babe upstairs.”

“Fuck off.”

“Word. I saw her. Naked. I barged into Dad’s room without knocking and --”

“Oh my God --”

“-- there she was, just standing there.”

“For real.”

“For rizzeal.”


“Naked, baby.”

“Oh my God. You mean, like, young?”

“Yeah, pretty young. Twenty--”


“Twenty-something, dude.”

“Oh my G--- wait. Philip. Are you fucking with me?”

“No. Go look.”

“Wow. You saw her, fucking naked.”

“Not fucking, but naked.”

“Wow. Did she have a nice body?”

“Yeah. Built. Nice breasts, natural --”

“Was Dad naked?”

“Yeah, but he was in bed and he had the covers over him a little bit.”

“Oh wow. Did you -- see his penis?”

“No. Thank God.”

“What should we do?”

“Finish bringing your stuff in.”

“But Philip --”


“We can’t. We’ve got to go away for a while.”

“He didn’t --” Philip paused (Buddy had guessed right, Philip was high; after doing without pot the whole trip, on the way home he had stopped the U-Haul at a taco vendor’s he knew on Highland over near Hollywood High and bought a ready-made spliff.) --”say we had to go away.”


“Yeah, I mean he’s already been busted. Unless -- wait --”


“Maybe they didn’t finish screwing.”

“Eww. Just -- eww, Philip.”

“Maybe they’re up there screwing right now.”

“Stop. I do not want to think about dad screwing some bimbo.”

“You don’t know she’s a bimbo. You’re such a priss, man.”

“I’m not a priss. I just don’t want to think about Dad fucking. Yucko. What are you doing?”

“I’m getting a beer.”



One thing about Dad, the motherfucker always had good beer in the fridge.

“Philip. I think we should split.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” He pulled out an Anchor Steam. “You want one? Oh, right, no beer, right?’

“No. I’ll take some Diet Coke.”

Philip put his beer down on the counter.

“One Diet Coke, coming up.”

“Oh my God.”

“What?” Philip upended a glass from the dish rack and filled it from a plastic magnum of Diet Coke. “What?” he said again.

“What if she’s a prostitute?”

“A prostitute?”

“Yes! I mean --”

“I hadn’t thought about that.”

“Think about it, dude.”

Philip handed her her Diet Coke.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Liz drank some of her soda, holding the glass in both hands. Philip popped the top off his beer and took a pull.

“Yeah, we should book,” said Philip.

“Except now I want to know who she is. What did she seem like?”

“Just -- you know, a chick. A nice chick.”


“Yeah. She was -- very -- polite.”

“Wait -- you talked to her?”

“Just a little.”

“While she was naked?”

“I told you she was naked.”

“Oh my God.”

“She --”


“She had a cool voice. It was, like, wet.”

“She had a wet voice.”


“She’s a whore.”

“Well, if she is I’d say she’s a pretty high-class whore.”

“Oh. Really.”

“What I mean is she wasn’t just some, you know --”

“Crack whore.”


Liz sipped her soda

“Fucking Dad.”

“Can’t leave him alone for a minute,” said Philip.

“Like a little kid.”

“Fucking Dad.”

“Dad, fucking.”

They both snorted.

“Shit,” said Philip, “the beer came up through my nose.”

“You’re gross. All men are gross.”

“Fucking Dad, fucking.”

They both snorted again.

“Oh, hi,” said Philip.

“What?” said Liz.

“Hello,” said Cordelia.

Liz turned around.

“Oh. Hi.”


Cordelia was dressed now, with her red backpack slung over one shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” she said, to both of them.

“Hey, no,” said Philip. “I should be sorry. I’m the one who barged in.”

“Well, I just wanted to say I’m sorry anyway.”

“No problem,” said Philip. “Where’s Dad?”

“He’s -- he’s --”

“Hiding,” said Philip. “The coward.”

“Well, I’ll go now,” said Cordelia.

“Wait, don’t just go,” said Philip. “Have a beer. You want a beer?”

“I don’t really drink beer.”

“Philip,” said Liz, “let her go.”

“Yeah, I’ll go.”

“No, wait,” said Philip -- “what’s your name?”


“Cordelia. I’m Philip.”

“I know.”

“And this is Liz.”

“Hi Liz.”


“Don’t just rush out,” said Philip. “I’m sure Dad doesn’t want you to just rush out.”

“I don’t know. This is weird.”

“Philip --” said Liz.


“I really better go,” said Cordelia. Ming came in, jumped up on the table, looked at Cordelia. She patted Ming’s head. “Hi, cute cat. What’s your name?”

“Ming,” said Liz.

“Hi, Ming. Hi, Ming.” Ming jumped down from the table and trotted away. “’Bye Ming. You’re moving from Milwaukee, Liz?”


“I love Milwaukee. I did a show there once.”

“Really? You’re an actress?”

“Yeah, that was my one real road tour.”

“What was the show?”

Sound of Music? With Richard Chamberlain?”

“Wow,” said Philip, “did you play the like Julie Andrews part?”

“Oh no, I was the little twit, you know --” she sang, “’I am sixteen going on seventeen --’”

“Ah,” said Liz. “I love that show.”

“Hey, how was Richard Chamberlain?” said Philip.

“Oh, he was nice. So what were you doing in Milwaukee, Liz?”

(Continued here, no matter what the Nielsen ratings say.)

(Please go to the right hand side of this page to see a listing of links to all other available chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™, soon to be a major motion picture produced and directed by Larry Winchester, provided George Clooney will come down ten mil in his asking price, although we’re open to giving him points.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 176: let’s go

In our previous episode that poet-saint Arnold Schnabel (still trying to get home to his aunts’ place after the longest night in recorded history) found himself once again dragooned by the terrible trio of the hot-blooded lady novelist Gertrude Evans and those Schnausers from hell, young Mr. and Mrs. DeVore...

(Click here to return to the first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning memoir. “It’s a family tradition in my home to sit by the fire and read Schnabel aloud throughout all twelve nights of Christmas.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, in Town and Country.)

Finally we made it to my aunts’ house on North Street, and our little troop went through the gate, up the front path and around to the side entrance steps. My female relatives (despite their obdurate thriftiness) had kindly left the little light bulb burning over the doorway. I turned to the Devores. I knew that they had the room on the ground floor left rear, which meant that here was the perfect place to divest myself of them. (Miss Evans, I knew, would be a different and far more difficult matter.)

“Well, good night, uh –” I couldn’t remember DeVore’s first name, and I had never known his wife’s name, although I had the vague notion that it possibly sounded like some sort of tuber or vegetable. “Good night, Mr. – uh –”

Suddenly his wife leaned over one of my aunts’ azaleas and began to vomit.

“Let’s go, Arnold,” said Miss Evans, pulling on my arm.

Mr. DeVore, ignoring his wife, held out his hand to me.

“Good night, pal. This is the best night I ever had in my life. And I really mean that.”

I shook his hand quickly, then pulled my hand away.

His wife continued to vomit.

“Would you two like to stop back to our place for a little nightcap?” he asked.

“No,” said Miss Evans.

“No thanks,” I said.

“You’re sure?” he asked. “I got a bottle of Four Roses –”

“No,” said Miss Evans.

“Yeah, it’s a little late,” I said.

His wife continued to vomit still.

“Hey, we should do something tomorrow, Arnold,” he said. “Just you and me.”

“Do something?”

Miss Evans pulled on my arm.

“Yeah,” said DeVore. “What do you like to do, Arnie? You like to fish?”

It had been such a long night. I confess I was on the verge of beginning to lose my patience. Mrs. DeVore, still vomiting prodigiously, had fallen to her knees, her sweat-soaked back buckling violently with each spasm. One would not have thought this smallish woman’s stomach capable of producing so much vomit, but it kept bursting out with no signs of diminishment.

“Listen,” I said, “Mr. DeVore –”

“Bob, call me Bob.”

He took out a pack of Kools from somewhere, gave the pack a shake, and several cigarettes flew out of it.

“Bob –” I said.

“Or maybe we could play a round of golf,” he said.

“Let’s go, Arnold,” said Miss Evans.

“Do you play?” asked DeVore. “Golf I mean.”

“No,” I said.

“What about miniature golf?”

Oh my f**king God,” moaned Mrs. DeVore.

“Honey,” said Mr. DeVore, putting a cigarette into his mouth, “watch your language.”

“Sorry,” she moaned.

“Sorry about that,” said DeVore to both me and Miss Evans. “She’s not used to the booze.” He was trying to light a cigarette with a Zippo that wouldn’t light. “So, Arnold -- y’know what we should really do? What we should really do tomorrow is just sit in a bar and watch the Phillies on TV. They’re playin’ the Giants. What do ya say? Just you and me, us guys.”

He smiled the way a puppy smiles.

How could I tell him I would rather die?

“Come on, Arnold,” said Miss Evans.

She was squeezing my arm so tightly that I could feel the blood to my hand being cut off.

“I want to show you my etchings,” she said.

“Etchings?” said DeVore. “I’d like to see your etchings too.”
"I think you should attend to your wife," said Miss Evans.
"Oh," he said, glancing down at the heaving and gasping small woman, "yeah, I guess you're right. Well, then, Arnold, how about it?"
"How about you and me, tomorrow. We'll get a little crazy. What do you say?"
You can imagine what I wanted to say.
But then an odd thing happened, to wit, DeVore suddenly turned into Jesus Christ. Not the Josh I had just left passed out on a couch at the Chalfonte, but a shorter and much more mundane-looking Jesus, but Jesus all the same.

Yes,” he said. “Even the most boring man has something of me in him. Remember that, Arnold, and be kind.

Then just as quickly he changed back into DeVore.

“Okay,” I said then. "Uh, look, Bob, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
This seemed vague enough.

“When?” he asked, shaking his lighter.

“Um, in the morning,” I said.

“In the morning it is, then buddy!”

He clicked his lighter again. It failed to light.

Good – night – Arnold,” moaned his wife, hunched over, holding her hair back with one hand, and looking sideways up at me.

“Good night –”

What was her name?

No matter. She vomited again.

“Ta ta,” said Miss Evans and then she pulled me up the steps, threw open the screen door and yanked me inside.

The hallway in there is narrow, as are the stairs, and she finally let go of my arm. Not standing on ceremony I headed up the stairs first. I didn’t want her blocking my way.

I climbed the steps as quickly as I could with my injured knees and made it to the second floor without incident, but halfway up to the third floor Miss Evans could no longer restrain herself and she grabbed at my rear end, causing me to leap involuntarily, trip, and flop forward onto the steps, with my right knee taking the hard brunt of the fall.

“Oh, dear, are you okay, Arnold?” she said, from below me on the stairs, and yet above me.

“Sure,” I said, and I pushed myself up to a standing position again. I took another step but my knee gave out, and I collapsed to my slightly more functional left knee.

“Are you quite sure you’re all right, Arnold?”

I didn’t answer, but, putting my hand on the bannister, I hauled myself up again. Going very slowly, one halting painful step at a time, I pulled myself up the rest of the way to the third floor.

I stopped to catch my breath, and to prepare myself for the walk down the hall to the attic door, when she came up beside me and took my arm once more.

“You poor thing and it’s all my fault.”

“No, I’ll be fine,” I said.

“You’d better come to my room. I’ll put some ice on that knee.”

“No thanks, Miss Evans.”

“Clean you up a bit.”

“I’ll take a shower in the morning.”

I took a step, and almost but not quite fell. Miss Evans skipped forward and grabbed my arm.

“Here, let me help you.”

I took another painful step.

“There there,” she said. “Easy does it now.”

A few more steps took us abreast of her door.

“I can make it from here,” I said.

“Oh can you?”

“Yes, thank you,” I said, through gritted teeth.

“Well, good night, then.”

“Good night, Gertrude.”

Don’t ask me why I tossed her the bone of addressing her by her first name. I felt sorry for her. But I shouldn’t have done it. Next thing I knew she had her arms around my neck and was kissing me.

It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want her to kiss me, although it’s true, I didn’t want her to, but the thing was that with my bad knee I could barely support my own weight, forget about the addition of hers, and so the combined action of my trying to pull away from her and of my right knee collapsing sent us both tumbling to the floor, with me on my back and Miss Evans lying on top of me.

“You brute,” she whispered. “Do you intend to take me right here in the hallway?”

I shoved her off, turned over, tried to get up, failed, fell to my knees, in great pain.

She grabbed my belt at the back, yanked, and pulled me to the floor again.

I was on my back, she was on her knees straddling my chest, staring down at me. She had her hard black purse slung over one shoulder, and both her hands were free to press down against my shoulders. Her face seemed enormous looming above mine, and even in the dim light of this hallway her eyes glittered with tiny bright flames.

“So,” she said, “you like it rough, do you?”

“Please, Miss Evans,” I whispered. “We’ll wake up the whole house.”

“That’s true,” she said. “Can’t have that.”

Two seconds later she was dragging me by the shoulders back toward her door. I had not known before this night that a mortal woman could possess such strength.

(Continued here, and indefinitely, due to contractual obligations.)

(Kindly turn to the right hand column of this page to find a putative up-to-date listing of links to all other previously broadcast episodes of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven©. Farther down you will find a listing for many of the fine poems of Arnold Schnabel, suitable for quoting on Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cards.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 26: busted

In our previous episode our hero Buddy Best was about to join the enigmatic Cordelia for lunch at Hollywood’s storied Musso and Frank Grill when she makes a startling suggestion...

(Click here to return to the first chapter of this “rollicking and ribald romp through the lower depths of today’s Tinsletown” -- (J.J. Hunsecker, in the Cape May Star and Times.)

It seemed like he had almost forgotten how nice it could be.

But then come to think of it maybe it never had been this nice.

“Um,” he said, “I guess we’re supposed to use a condom, right?”

“Yeah. I guess.”

“Uh, do you have any?”

“No,” she said. “Don’t you?”

Okay, he had gone through tons of condoms in his life up until his dry spell of the past year, but like any good philandering husband he had always bought them on an ad hoc basis. And so, not being entirely forthcoming:

“No, I don’t. Joan was on the pill. Not that she needed to take the pill as far as I was concerned, since we didn’t -- or at least we hadn’t in a long time, but -- are you on the pill?”

“No,” she said.

She turned her head and looked away, biting her lip. She had let her hair down and her curls were exploded all over the pillow. Okay --

No. He owed it to her not even to suggest, not even to --

“Y’know, I could -- just put it in for a little while, and then -- you know --”

She quickly turned her face to his, her eyes wide open.

“Oh my God, I’ve never done that.”

“Oh. Well, it’s not that much fun, really.”

“I mean, I’ve never -- I’ve never had sex without a condom.”

“Oh,” said Buddy. “That --”

“Sucks. I know.”

She looked up at him. He looked down at her.

“Um --”

“Yeah?” she said.

“Uh -- there’s other ways we can enjoy ourselves,” said Buddy.

“Oh really?”


“You’re such an old pro, huh?”

“That’s me.”

A minute later, “Oh, no,” she said. “Oh no. Oh no.” Buddy stopped doing what he was doing. “Why’d you stop?” she said.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, and he went back to it.


“What’s that?” she said.

Buddy stopped again.

“What’s what?”

“That buzzing sound.”

Buddy listened.

“Oh, it’s my cellphone.” Which was in his pants, which were on the floor. “It’s on Manner Mode. It buzzes and vibrates instead of ringing, for like when you’re in a restaurant.”

“Like we are now?”


“You don’t need to answer it?”




The buzzing stopped.

“Okay,” said Buddy.

“Wait!” said Cordelia.


“Wait, I think I might have a condom.”

“Oh. Great.”

She swung her leg over his head, and got out of the bed.

“Don’t look at me,” she said.

He looked at her. Okay, body nowhere nearly as toned or as muscular as Joan’s, hips and backside fuller and softer, breasts a bit smaller but much more -- realistic, because they were real. She looked human.

She picked up her red backpack, which she had dropped to the floor halfway from the door when they came in. She brought it over to the bed and sat down with it on her lap.

“There might be one in here somewhere. I was seeing this dude for about two minutes back in New York, and I think -- but then we’d better check the expiration date, but, wait -- no --”

Buddy put his hand on her hip and watched her as she rummaged through the pack.

“I said don’t look at me,” she said.

“Okay,” said Buddy.

He sat up behind her, and put his hand on her breast. With his other hand he moved her hair away from her neck and then he kissed her neck. She moved her head up and around in a circle.

He leaned down around her shoulder and kissed her Saturn tattoo. She put her hand on his hand which was on her breast. She smelled like -- what -- warm honey, warm honey and --

Then Buddy heard Philip yelling downstairs and, more faintly, Liz yelling from out front.

Cordelia turned her face to his.

“Who’s that?”

“My kids,” whispered Buddy.

“Your kids,” she whispered back.

“My two grown kids. By my other marriage.”

“Oh. Why are they here?”

“Philip moved back in a couple of weeks ago. Now Liz is moving back too and Philip is helping her.”

“Oh. Philip and Liz.”

“Yeah. They were in Milwaukee. I didn’t know they’d be getting here today.”

“I see. What should we do?”

“Well, we could hide in here.”

They could still hear Philip yelling downstairs, and now they could hear Liz’s voice indoors too.

“The door’s open,” Cordelia said.

His bedroom door. They hadn’t been very discreet as they tumbled in from the hallway.

“Should I close it?” she said.

“Yeah, why don’t you close it while we -- whatever.”

She put the backpack on the floor and got up and tiptoed over to the doorway. (And Buddy memorized her doing this.) She gently closed the door and tiptoed back to the bed. She had one knee up on it and Buddy had his hand on her thigh when he said:

“Oh, wait, you didn’t put the bolt on.”

“The bolt -- oh --”

She got off the bed again and took a step, but there was a thump, thump, rapid thumping on the stairs, and she froze -- thump, thump, thump -- then she tiptoed forward but right before she reached the door it opened and Philip was there, saying:

“Yo! Dad! You here? Oh -- oh -- oh -- wow --”

Cordelia stood there on her toes, her hands half raised.

“Shut the door, Philip,” said Buddy.

“Ah, shit, Dad, I’m sorry. Hello,” he said to Cordelia.

“Hello,” she said.

“Phil --” said Buddy.

“Oh, sorry --”

And Philip started to close the door, but as it was almost closed he said:

“Dad, you want us, I mean me and Liz, you want us to like, you know, disappear for a while, or --”

“I don’t care, Philip.”

“I just had to use the head, Dad, and I figured you were home ‘cause I saw your car, and your door was open, and, I don’t
know --”

“It’s okay, Phil, just close the door, okay, let us get dressed.”

“Okay,” he said, through the crack.

“Sorry, miss.”

“That’s okay, Philip,” said Cordelia. “You didn’t know.”

“I know. I just had to take a pee.”

“It’s okay,” she said.

“Well, I’ll see you guys,” said Philip.

For some reason the maniac hadn’t shut the door yet. Was he high?

“I’m really sorry,” he said. He was high. “Really --”

“Philip, it’s okay,” said Buddy. “Just shut the fucking door.”

“Okay. Nice meeting you, miss. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” said Cordelia.

And, finally, he shut the fucking door.

(Continued here, despite the cries of the nay-sayers.)

(Please see the right hand side of this page for a listing of links to all other published chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™, recently awarded the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 175: jealous

Let us return to that fateful long night in August of 1963, and to our hero, Mr. Arnold Schnabel – bruised, battered, bloodied and only slightly bowed, wending his way homeward (or at least to the boarding house of his three maiden aunts, to which he and his mother have resorted for the summer) through the streets of that ancient seaport of Cape May, New Jersey...

(Go here to read our previous episode, or here to go to the first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning epic, styled by the noted scholar Harold Bloom as “a book for all seasons, but particularly appropriate for gift-giving during the pagan winter-solstice festivities”.)

I made the left turn at Carpenter’s Lane. As empty as the streets were, it still seemed prudent to avoid the main drag of Washington Street, along or near which so many of tonight’s shenanigans had transpired. But when I got to the crossing of Jackson Street I couldn’t help but look to my left and up to that second floor above the jewelry shop: the windows of Elektra’s room were dark, but I saw lights in the apartment’s other windows along the side of the house.

I walked over and around to the side pathway and into that dark nighttime smell of ivy and of sleeping roses. I paused beneath a window and heard music, jazz music, a saxophone playing a sad song that seemed like it had started years ago and still had a long way to go.

And then I thought, no.

Enough was enough. And, besides, just look at me. God knew I knew next to nothing about women, but if I knew anything at all about them then Elektra would not leave unmentioned these scrapes on my every possible hand and arm and knee, not to mention a pronounced limp. It would be bad enough dealing with my mother and aunts in the morning.

But then I hesitated, because it occurred to me that of course Elektra would only see the scrapes tomorrow.

(Unless – unless I went over to Buddy Kelly’s again, and asked him for another swabbing with that scarlet medicine…)

What to do.

I turned and walked back to the sidewalk. But then I stopped again, looking obliquely up at those inviting second-floor windows, hearing that soft music.

Would it be so terrible after all to let Elektra fuss over me a little bit?

And then I saw the lights go out in those windows, and retroactively I became aware that the music had ceased also a few moments before. So even my bohemian friends were finally calling it a day, unless one or more of them should still be sitting up, staring into the darkness and silence, something I had done often enough in my life but hadn’t done lately.

So I continued my way homeward, turning down Carpenter’s Lane again. Up ahead was Perry Street, and when I reached it I would be in the home stretch, just a couple of blocks from my bed.

However, as I reached Perry I saw out of the corner of my eye three people all the way down near Beach Drive.

It couldn’t be, could it?

I quickly turned right, hunching my shoulders and lowering my head, but then I heard it: three voices, one male, two female, all of them shouting my name at the top of their lungs.

My impulse was to run, just to break into a run and not stop running until I was back in my aunts’ house, but unfortunately with my banged-up knees running was out of the question; it was all I could do to shamble, and painfully at that.

I stopped, and turned, and waited, and soon I was joined by Miss Evans and Mr. and Mrs. DeVore, all of them out of breath and panting after stampeding up the street.

“I knew I would find you,” said Miss Evans.

“Arnold, old buddy, what the hell happened to you?” yelled Mr. DeVore.

“He’s been beaten up,” gasped Mrs. DeVore. “Or were you hit by a car?”

“Neither,” I said, responding directly to Mrs. DeVore. “I fell.”

More nonsense was spoken, by all concerned, I won’t bore the reader or myself by trying to dredge it up and transcribe it, living through it once was bad enough. But pretty soon we got moving, myself and Miss Evans leading the way, Miss Evans hanging tightly onto my arm and the DeVores yapping away right on our heels.

“I knew I would find you, Arnold,” said Miss Evans, for about the ninth time. She was now speaking in an almost-English accent, sort of like the way Katharine Hepburn talks.

“It was meant to be,” she said. “I can’t wait to get you home. Oh, wait.”

She stopped, pulling me to a stop. The Devores almost ran into us.

“Stand back, you two,” said Miss Evans.

They both said sorry and stepped back a yard or so.

“Where did you go, with that Joshua fellow?”

She still held her arm tightly in mine.

“That’s a long story,” I said.

“You two,” said Miss Evans to the DeVores, “step back farther!”

This they did, a few more steps.

“It was them, wasn’t it?” she said, not quite whispering. “They were boring you silly, so you and Joshua ditched the lot of us.”

“Well –”

“Say no more. You poor man. Come on.”

She gave my arm a yank, and we resumed our progress.

The DeVores continued to follow us, keeping to a respectful few feet behind us.

“By the way, old bean, what’s up with those other friends of yours, that Mr. Arbuthnot and that Jack fellow?”

“Just some guys I barely know,” I said.

“What about this other chap, friend of this Jack blighter – 'Lucky'. Do you know him?”

“I’m afraid I do,” I said.

“What do you mean, you don’t like him?”

“No, I can’t say I do,” I said.

“So you don’t think I should sign with him?”

“Sign with him?”

“His management company. He and that Jack bloke say they can get all my books made into movies. Do you think they’re full of ordure?”

“Of what?”

“Caca. Feces. Of the bovine sort.”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes. I do in fact.”

Now it was I who stopped us. I held out a warning arm to the DeVores, and without a word they stopped and withdrew to the same distance they had held to during my immediately previous tête-à-tête with Miss Evans.

“Arnold, what’s come over you.”

“Miss Evans, you didn’t sign anything, did you?”

“What? What do you mean. Ha ha. Would I sign a contract with someone I had just met in a bar somewhere? Ha ha.”

“Did you?”

I peeled her arm from its steely grasp on mine.

“You’re being very rude, Arnold.”

“Listen, Gertrude –”



“You called me by my Christian name. You’ve never done that before without my prompting.”

“Miss Evans –”

“I do believe you’re jealous, Arnold.”

With one red-nailed finger she touched the open neck of my polo shirt.

I pulled her hand away.

“Oh, my, so forceful. I love you this way, Arnold. You beast.”

“Miss Evans, did you sign a contract?”

“No, you silly man, I didn’t sign a contract. Oh, they wanted me to but I played hard to get. That Lucky fellow said he’d take me to luncheon tomorrow and try to, as he put it, ‘ply me with champagne and oysters’.”

“She’s telling the truth, Arnold,” called DeVore.

“Yeah. Truth,” said Mrs. DeVore.

“We heard it all.”

“Heard all.”

“Now may we go home?” said Miss Evans.

She slid her arm back into mine, gave me a tug, and off we went.

“Oh, yes, I do believe you’re jealous,” said Miss Evans.

She continued to speak nonsense the rest of the way back.

(Continued here, because that nice new doctor says it’s harmless to do so and possibly even good therapy.)

(Feel free to cast your gaze to the right hand column of this page where you should find an allegedly current list of links to all other available chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven©, the first six volumes of which will soon be available in handy pocket-sized editions from the The Big K Press, exclusively at K-Marts everywhere at the special low, low holiday price of $1.99 {US} apiece; quantities limited.)