Thursday, August 26, 2021

“The New Day”

 Gerry “the Brain” Goldsmith came suddenly awake and realized he must have left his desk lamp burning. He turned his head to his right and saw the little man sitting at the writing table.

“Excuse me?” said Gerry.

“Oh, the sleeper awakes!” said the man. He was a shabby little fellow, wearing a flat cap and with the stub of an unlighted cigar in his mouth. Despite the warm weather and Gerry’s lack of air-conditioning, the man wore an old grey overcoat and a faded muffler. Gerry fixed the man’s age as somewhere between a rather decrepit fifty and a reasonably spry eighty.

Gerry tried to sit up, but somehow he couldn’t.

“Why are you here?” he asked.

“You mean on this planet?” said the man. 

Gerry noticed that the man held a sheaf of papers in his hands.

“Well, more particularly,” said Gerry, “I was wondering what you’re doing here in my digs.”

“How are you feeling, by the way?” asked the fellow.

“I believe that I am very drunk,” said Gerry. “And I am finding it difficult to sit up.”

“So don’t sit up.”

“I feel awkward lying here, looking at a strange person sitting at my writing table.”

“Life is awkwardness,” said the man. “I should think that you,” he flicked a fingernail at the sheaf of papers, “a philosopher, would know that by now.”

“Point taken,” said Gerry. “You seem oddly familiar.”

“Oh, you’ve seen me around, my friend.”

“Wait!” said Gerry, and now, with a surge of willpower, in one graceful movement, he tossed aside his covering sheet, drew his legs off the bed and sat up. “You’re the little guy I gave a quarter to a little while ago on the front stoop.”

“Bingo,” said the man. “Hey, I’ve been reading your work-in-progress here. This stuff is hilarious.”

“Thanks,” said Gerry, “I think.”

“Like this line,” said the guy, and he ran his finger along the uppermost page of the sheaf of papers he held in one hand. “Here ya go, this: ‘If you’re listening to someone talk and he’s boring you, rest assured that your interlocutor will be just as bored once you start talking.’ Ha ha. That’s some good shit right there, my friend.”

“Thanks,” said Gerry. “I try.”

“You got a name for this little oeuvre?”

“My current working title is Pensées for a Rainy Day.”

Pensées for a Rainy Day?”

“I’m not married to the title.”

“Oh, I like it.”

He laid the papers on Gerry’s little writing table.

“I’m also considering Thoughts Like Falling Leaves,” said Gerry.

“I prefer Pensées for a Rainy Day,” said the man. “But what do I know?”

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing here,” said Gerry.

“You gave me your last quarter.”

“Only because my friend was being so rude to you.”

“Your friend, the one they call Addison the Wit.”


“What a hopeless drip that guy is.”

“I know.”

“Then why do you put up with him?”

“I don’t know. I guess I feel sorry for him.”

“You’re a saint, my friend.”


“No, you are. Literally. A saint. And I should know, because I myself am an angel.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“My name is Bert by the way. They call me Bowery Bert, on account of I’m the guardian angel for this neighborhood.”

“I didn’t know neighborhoods had guardian angels.”

“You’re a human being. It would take a billion Encyclopedia Brittanicas to cover all the shit that human beings don’t know.”


“Anyway, it’s official, you’re a saint.”

“Does this mean I’ll go to heaven?”

“Well, no, not necessarily. However.”

The little fellow paused.

“Yes?” said Gerry.
“Okay, I ain’t supposed to interfere in human affairs, but here’s what I’m gonna do, and it ain’t just because you gave me your last quarter.”

“It ain’t, I mean, it isn’t?”

“No, it’s partially that, but it’s mostly because you spent the better part of yesterday afternoon and all last night humoring that ass Addison, listening to him talk about his horrible novel, and buying him five bock beers for every one he bought you.”

“He is a little tight with his nickels and dimes,” said Gerry.

“So here’s what I’m gonna do for ya. And I really shouldn’t do it, but I guess this once won’t hurt. I’m gonna remit your hangover for your present load.”

“Remit my hangover?”

“Yeah. Just this once, mind you, so don’t get used to it. But you’ll go back to sleep, and sleep long and deep, and when you wake up you’ll be as fresh as a daisy.”

“No hangover?”

“Not a trace.”

Gerry woke up.

What day was it?

The sun shone through his window.

He felt strange. He hadn’t felt this way in years, perhaps decades.

What was it?

And then he realized: he wasn’t hungover.

How odd.

He must have slept through the entire day after and ensuing night. And now it was a brand new day.

He tossed aside his sheet, lowered his feet to the floor.

A new day, and he hadn’t felt this good in years, in decades. He got up to go to the bathroom, and on the way he noticed that he had left the lamp burning on his writing table. He switched it off, and in the ashtray, along with all his usual Bull Durham butts, he saw the stub-end of a cigar.

{Please go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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