Thursday, March 31, 2022

“Scooter and the Kiss”

“All right, Amberson,” said Bubbles, not stifling a yawn, “listen, pal –”

“Um, may I just interrupt you for only the briefest of moments?” said Addison.

“Now what?”

“Well, in point of fact, Bubbles, my name is not exactly Amberson.”

“What? I thought you said it was Amberson, like, you know, the Magnificent Ambersons.”

“Ha ha, yes, well, I can see how one might make that mistake, but actually the joking name that people call me is ‘Addison’, short for ‘Addison the Wit’, heh heh; you see, they call me that because apparently I’m like – or at least it’s said I try to be like – the character of ‘Addison DeWitt’ in the film All about Eve, and –”

“So I’ve been calling you Amberson all this time but really your name is Addison.”

“Well, no, not precisely –”

“Not precisely what?”

“Addison is not precisely my name, but is, rather, a sort of cognomen I am called by my friends at my ‘local’, Bob’s Bowery Bar –”

“You have friends?”

“Well, I suppose one might call them acquaintances at the very least –”

“So Amberson is just your nickname.”

“Addison actually.”

“But that’s not your real name.”

“No, heh heh, and in reality (and, really, what do we mean by reality?), or in what I choose, perhaps foolishly, to call reality, my actual birth-certificated and, indeed, baptismal Christian name is –”

“So what does your family call you? Paterson?”

“Ha ha, no, they actually have another strange sobriquet or ‘family name’ for me –”

“What is it?”

“Oh, no one but my family call me by that name, it’s really quite silly.”

“What is it.”

“My friends just call me Addison, and to be honest I’ve quite gotten used to it. I think it suits me in a way –”

“What do your family call you. What do all those aunts and great aunts and grandmothers who are always sending you envelopes with double sawbucks in them call you.”

“Well, please don’t laugh –”

“I’m not making any promises.”

“Heh heh.”

“Spit it out.”

“They call me Scooter.”


“Yes, ha ha, but it’s a name strictly reserved to my most immediate blood relations you see; it was given me by my Great Aunt Enid because of the way I was always scooting around underfoot at family gatherings, heh heh. ‘There goes Scooter,’ Great Aunt Enid would say, ‘scooting around underfoot like a scared little rabbit –’


“Yes, ha ha, but as I say –”

“Okay, Scooter – I like that, that’s what I’m gonna call you.”


“Yeah. Scooter.”

“But my real name is –”

“Scooter will do. Now listen, Scooter, what I was starting to say before we got off on this tangent is I want to take a little nap now, so I’m going to ask you to leave.”

“Oh, a nap sounds divine! I wonder if I might take a nap with you?”


“Or I could just lie here and watch you napping.”

“Definitely no.”


She stubbed out her latest Philip Morris Commander, then she turned and looked at him.

“Listen, Scooter, or Amberson, whatever, it’s been fun, and thanks for the brunch and all, but I like to take my naps alone. So be a good boy and run along.”

“Yes, of course, Bubbles, I quite understand, but may I ring you up again?”

Bubbles paused for a moment, studying Addison’s hopeful and adoring face, or at least looking in its direction.
“Yeah, sure,” she said, “you can call me if you want, just, you know, not before noon.”

“Yes, certainly, not before noon, ha ha, how uncivilized to call someone before noon –”

“So get dressed and hit the pike because I need my nap.”

“Perhaps we could see a movie?”


“Perhaps we could take in a film someday?”

“You want to go to the movies with me?”

“Yes, I mean, I see you have quite a few movie magazines on your table, so –”

“You want to take me to the movies.”

“Well, take in the sense of accompany you, and to the film of your choice of course –”

“You mean we would go Dutch treat?”

“Dutch treat?”

“You mean I would have to pay for my own ticket?”

“Oh, well, no, no, of course not, I mean, gee, heh heh, yes, I mean no, I would be glad to buy you a ticket, and in fact I love to go to matinées because the prices are usually so much more reasonable, but, if you would prefer to go in the evening –”

“Look, just give me a call, and if I’m in the mood and there’s something good to see, I’ll let you take me to a movie.”

“Oh, splendid! I wonder if you’ve seen the Audie Murphy film, Ride a Dead Horse, because it’s playing on a double bill right now –”

“I’m not seeing any cowboy movie, so forget it.”

“Oh, yes, absolutely, I mean absolutely not, it doesn’t have to be a western –”

“That's just swell, because it’s not going to be a western. I want to see a good Faith Domergue movie, or maybe something with Marie Windsor or Lizabeth Scott.”


“I like those movies where they get mixed up with some crumb ball like Dan Duryea or Zachary Scott but then Dennis O’Keefe or Eddie O’Brien comes along and bails them out.”

“I shall scour the listings for just such a film.”

“Great, now go, I’m falling asleep with boredom here.”

“At once. But first, I wonder if it would be overstepping bounds if I were to ask you for a kiss.”

“A what?”

“A kiss?”

“You want to kiss me?”

“Very much so. I mean if you wouldn’t mind.”

Bubbles sighed, deeply.

“All right,” she said. “One quick peck. But it’s gonna cost you a buck.”

“A buck?”

“One dollar. Just leave it on the table.”

“A dollar?”

“You heard me. I gotta make a living, you know, and there’s lots of rich old perverts who would pay me a lot more than a dollar to let them kiss me.”

“Well, in that case a dollar does sound reasonable.”

“So go ahead. Kiss me, Scooter, and then get dressed and scoot on out of here.”

Outside the snow was still flurrying in the fading afternoon light, but the sidewalks had been shoveled. Addison turned up his collar and headed east on Bleecker. 

Bubbles had let him kiss her!

The cold flurries swirled all around him, the air was cold and wet, but he didn’t care. He had kissed her, only on the cheek, but he had kissed her, and all was good in the world, or, at least, all was good in Addison’s little world…

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

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