Thursday, October 14, 2021

“Rainfall Over the Bowery”


 “What do you think?” said Araminta.

“I, uh –”

“Be honest now, Mr. Goldsmith. Brutally honest!”

“I think they are beautiful,” said Gerry.

“Yes, fine, but is one bigger than the other?”

“What?”

Quite understandably Gerry was finding it hard to think straight.

“I asked you,” she said, “is one breast bigger than the other?” 

“What? No, I mean, not that I can tell.”

“Not that you can tell? You’re not blind, are you?”

“Oh, no.”

“So they’re really the same size?”

“Yes, I think so.”

At last she lowered her sweater. Or was it a chemise? At any rate it was some sort of white silky material, and now her breasts were covered by it.

Gerry sighed, whether with relief or something else he had no idea. Outside the rain still fell, and inside here on Araminta’s divan he was sweating profusely.

“Damn him,” said Araminta.

“Pardon me?”

“Damn Terry for saying the girl in his stupid novel had mismatched breasts!”

“But –”

“But what?”

“But a novel is a work of fiction, by definition, that is, it has no intrinsic or artistic need to reflect any actual shall we say ‘reality’, qua reality –”

“Oh, pish, the girl in it is obviously based on me.”

“Well, you say that, and yet, the girl in the book apparently has, um –”

“One breast bigger than the other?”

“Precisely. And so, perforce, or perhaps ‘ipso facto’, or should I simply say ‘obviously’, she is not based entirely upon you, or –”

“Oh. I get it. You mean he’s being ‘creative’.”

“For lack of a better word, yes.”

“Also, he made the girl Italian, and I am not Italian.”

“Well, there you go, see? Creative.”

“So you’re saying she’s not based one hundred percent on me.”

“Well, I haven’t read a word of Terry’s novel, but I should hazard the opinion that, yes, perhaps the character is not entirely based on you.”

“You know who would make a good character in a novel?” said Araminta, changing the subject abruptly.

“Pardon me?” said Gerry.

“You, Mr. Goldsmith.”

“What?”

“You would make a good character in a novel. Would you mind if I put you in my novel?”

“You’re writing a novel?”

“Yes. Do you want to know what it’s about?”

“Uh –”

“It’s about this girl named Arabella from New Jersey who goes from a private Catholic girls’ school to Vassar, and then she graduates and comes to the city to pursue a career as a jazz poet, and she moves from this dreary women’s hotel to a tenement at Bleecker and the Bowery, and she begins to write a novel based on her awakening into womanhood.”

“Oh. Uh, well, that sounds –”

“But then she meets this guy in a diner, who’s also writing a novel.”

“Terry?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, the fellow in your novel, is he based on Terry?”

“The guy in my novel is named Kenny.”

“I see.”

“And he’s quite tall. Terry is not very tall.”

“No, of course –”

“Also, the chap in my novel is a lot smarter than Terry is.”

“I see.”

“Okay, maybe there’s some Terry in the character.”

“Um, uh –”

She picked up the Harvey’s Bristol Cream bottle, and upended it over her jelly glass.

“Damn,” she said, “we’re out.”

“Yes, well, maybe we should go down to Bob’s –”

“I don’t get my allowance until tomorrow.”

“I’ll buy.”

“Okay, but first let’s blow some gage, daddy-o.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“Some weed. Reefer. Mary Jane. Muggles.”

“You mean marijuana?”

“That’s precisely what I mean.”

There was a carved wooden cigarette box on the coffee table, and Araminta leaned over, opened it, and picked out a crudely hand-rolled cigarette from among some factory-rolled ones.

“Isn’t it addictive?” said Gerry.

“Only psychologically. Light me up, man.”

With trembling fingers Gerry scrabbled a match out of his matchbox and scraped it against the striking surface of the box, igniting the match at last on his fourth try.

With two slender fingers holding the muggles in her pursed red lips, Gerry gave Araminta a light as the rain continued to fall outside on the Bowery.



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

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