Thursday, January 13, 2022

“A Woman Called Bubbles”

 “Anybody sitting here, buddy?”

“Why, no,” said Addison, “in point of fact I do believe that this seat currently has no claims to proprietorship.”


It was a woman, a tall woman with dark hair, and wearing a red fur (or fur-like) pillbox hat, dusted with snow. She seated herself at the stool vacated by Araminta and put a red purse on the bar top. She wore a black fur (or furrish) coat, also whitened with snow. She opened her purse and took out a pack of Philip Morris Commanders.

“Still snowing out?” said Addison.

The woman put a cigarette in her mouth and looked at Addison.

“No,” she said. “This white stuff all over me is just your imagination.”

“Heh heh,” said Addison, if one can be said to say heh heh.

She continued to stare at him, and suddenly Addison realized she was waiting for him to give her a light. Quickly he dug a book of matches out of his coat pocket, and after only three tries and two matches he succeeded in putting flame to her cigarette.

She blew smoke in his face. She wasn’t exactly attractive, in fact she seemed rather hard and mannish, the sort of woman one might perhaps describe as handsome, but not pretty, and Addison made a mental note to use this observation as soon as possible in his epic western novel-in-progress, Sixguns to El Paso.

“I haven’t seen you in here before,” the woman said.

“Yes,” said Addison, “I came in here simply by chance. You see I had been heading for my usual watering hole, when I was accosted by a certain –”

“Are you going to buy me a drink or are you just going to tell me your life story?”

“A drink?”

“Yes. A drink. Something liquid you pour into your yap and then swallow.”

“Ah, yes, a drink! Of course! Well then, what would you like?”

“Get me a Pink Lady.”

“A Pink Lady?”

“You heard me.”

The bartender was standing there, and Addison duly said, “A Pink Lady for the lady, please.”

“You want another Rheingold too, pal?” said the bartender.

With his practiced eye he had noticed that Addison’s bottle was indeed empty.

“Why, yes,” said Addison. “Thank you.”

“What about another Cream of Kentucky?”

Addison hated to buy shots of whiskey for himself. In fact he hated to buy anything for himself, but a little voice told him to cast his parsimoniousness aside for once, because he just might need the Dutch courage the Cream of Kentucky might provide.

“Yes, and a Cream of Kentucky, too, please.”

The bartender went away. The woman took another drag of her Philip Morris and then slowly exhaled, staring at Addison through the smoke. She tapped her cigarette ash into the same ashtray Addison had been using.

“What’s your name, buddy?”

“My name?”

“No, the man on the moon.”

“Heh heh, well, you know, it’s funny, because everyone I know calls me Addison, after the character played by George Sanders in the film All About Eve –”


“Why do they call me Addison?”

“Yeah. You don’t look like George Sanders to me. Dan Duryea on a bad day maybe, but not George Sanders.”

“Ha ha, yes, well, I do believe they call me Addison because I am known as something of a wit, you see, always ready with a bon mot or a scathing sally of rapier-like –”

“I get it. You’re a regular card, aren’t you?”

“Heh heh, um, yes, I suppose so, but in fact my actual Christian name is –”

“I’ll call you Addison.”

“Yes, but –”

“Addison is what I’m calling you.”

“Okay,” said Addison.

“It better be okay, because that’s what I’m calling you, Addison.”

“Ha ha. Um. And may I know your name?”

“Call me Bubbles.”

“What a most unusual name.”

“I like it. It’s not my real name either, but that’s what they call me. And you know why?”

“Is it because you have a bubbly personality?”

“No. They call me that because I’ve got the opposite of a bubbly personality.”


She turned away, smoking, and staring in the direction of all those colorful bottles behind the bar.

Could this be it? Would Addison finally make a connection with a female who was not one of his aunts, or great aunts, or grandmothers? He must not blow it. If he were truly going to make his novel a classic he would have to know something of the female gender, something that he didn’t just get from novels and movies. And if he were to write a believable scene of furious or romantic (or both) lovemaking, then it would only help his writing if he could experience sexual relations in his own life.

The bartender came back with the drinks, laid them down, stared at Addison.

“Two bucks, pal,” he said. “Put the money on the wood and make the betting good.”

“Oh!” said Addison, and he scrabbled out his old Cub Scout wallet. Fortunately a belated Christmas card from his Great Aunt Agatha had arrived that day with a twenty-dollar bill in it, and he handed the bill to the bartender.

“Thanks, Addison,” said the woman called Bubbles.

“Oh, entirely my pleasure!”

She took a sip of her Pink Lady.

“Hey, Addison, let me ask you a question, and I don’t want you to be offended, but if you are, tough.”

“Oh, please ask away! I assure you, Bubbles, that I am not easily offended,” said Addison, speaking the truth for once. He was a man who had been so often insulted, and had been since his earliest schooldays, that he had become almost completely immune to verbal injury.

“My question is are you a fairy.”

“A what?”

“Are you a pansy.”

“Do you mean – am I a homosexual?”

“You’re pretty quick on the uptake, fella. So are you a homo or not?”

Addison paused for just a moment. Wasn’t a homosexual someone who had sex with men? Well, except for that one incident during the war when that drunken sergeant had brutally rubbed up against his backside at that urinal in the men’s room of the Sow’s Belly Tavern in Fayetteville, North Carolina, if you could call that sex, then, no, he had never “had sex” per se with a man…

“No,” said Addison.

“You don’t sound too sure.”

He realized that if this was going to go anywhere he would probably have to appear more forceful.

“I assure you I am quite sure,” he said.

“Great,” said Bubbles. “Then how's about we get outside these drinks and then blow this popsicle stand and head over to my trap. I’m just down the block on Bleecker.”

“You mean you want to go your place?”

“Am I speaking Chinese?”

“Ha ha, no.”

Never in his life had Addison been invited to go to a woman’s place who was not an aunt, a great aunt, or a grandmother. What an evening this was turning out to be! He wondered if Bubbles would offer him a drink, a highball, perhaps some sandwiches –

“So,” she said, “you up for it, big spender?”

“Why, yes,” said Addison. “Yes, damn it. Full speed ahead, Gridley, and damn the torpedoes.”

“You slay me.”

Two minutes later they were outside the bar in the thick falling snow, under Addison’s old umbrella, a gift from his Aunt Enid upon his graduation from Episcopal.

Bubbles put her arm in Addison’s.

“Look at these cotton balls comin’ down,” she said.

“Yes,” said Addison, “I think the city looks so beautiful in the snow, don’t you?”

She stared at him for just a moment.

“You sure you’re not a fairy, Addison?”

“Oh, quite sure, Bubbles.”

“Great, on account of I wouldn’t want to waste my time. By the way, just so you know ahead of time, it’s a sawbuck for a throw, a fin for just a BJ. Your choice.”

Addison had no idea what she meant.

“Tell you what,” he said, trying to sound gentlemanly. “Let’s make it a ladies’ choice tonight, Bubbles.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll go for the sawbuck for a throw then. I could use the exercise.”

What ever did she mean? Well, Addison supposed he would find out soon enough, and already he was thinking of how he would “use” this experience in his novel, transposed, mutatis mutandis, into the milieu of the Old West…

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

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