Tuesday, March 30, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 43: pompano

Into every life a little rain must fall, sometimes a lot of rain. Sometimes it even rains in southern California...

(Click here to go to our previous chapter; the curious may go here to return to the first chapter of Uncle Buddy’s House©. “An epic of our time, which isn’t saying much.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, in The Cape May Pennysaver.)

Saturday morning was stormy, rain was falling hard and the palm trees on Venice Boulevard were swaying in the wind as Buddy drove Deirdre down to the Ancient Mariner’s. His cellphone rang and it was Joan.

“Babe, I’m gonna be there in three minutes, relax.”

“I’m just calling to make sure you’re staying for lunch.”


“You’re staying for lunch, right?”

“Wait, let me put you on hold a second, I just got another call.”

He punched in hold and looked at Deirdre.

“You know about this lunch deal?”

“She called me twice yesterday, asking me to get you to come to lunch. I didn’t bother asking you, ‘cause I knew what you’d say.”

“Smart girl.”

“Even he called me once. Which was weird. But everything he does is weird.”

“He’s a dickwad.”


Buddy punched Joan back on.

“Sorry, it was work. So, anyway --”

“Buddy, I want you to stay for lunch.”

“Uh, no, sorry, I’m busy today, Joan --”

“Give me Deirdre.”

He passed the phone to Deirdre. He could hear Joan’s voice.

“All right, look,” said Deirdre. “All right. All right. Hey, Mom, I never said I was gonna talk to him. You said I was gonna talk to him. I never said that. Oh. Oh. Okay. Yeah, sure, Mom. All right, Mom. Mom, I said all right. Mom, will you shut the fuck up please? I said all right now give me a break. Christ.”

She snapped the phone shut and dropped it onto the dashboard.


“So what’s the scoop?”

“Look, Uncle Bud, I know it’ll be agony for you, but dig it, it’s agony for me every fucking weekend. Do me a favor, stay for lunch just this once so she’ll leave me the hell alone. Okay? I know it’s asking a lot, but I’ll try to make it up to you.” She took a breath, then said quietly, “If you say no I don’t blame you.”

“Well, in that case I’ll say no.”

“Fuck you.”

“Hey, watch your mouth --”

“I did you a favor.”

“What? What favor?”

“I told Jeremy to fuck off.”

“Jeremy? Oh, right, the child molester.”

“Yeah, him.”

“Right. I notice we haven’t seen him around the house lately. Good thing for him, too.”

“Would you kick his ass?”

“I would -- no, I wouldn’t kick his ass necessarily. I’d have a fucking word with the little would-be statutory-rapist --”

“But, see, I did you a favor.”

“You did yourself a favor, kiddo.”

“Oh, okay, and I ask you one tiny little favor, and now that cunt is gonna make life miserable for me all weekend --”

“Oh, Christ, Deirdre --”


“What’re you, in training to be a woman already?”

“Okay. Fine.”

There was a long pause.

“Fuck it,” she said. “I don’t blame you. Forget it.”


The Mariner’s block, rain lashing in from the ocean; the street deserted, the beach beyond empty, the sky grey, the ocean blue-grey flecked with white-grey, and before Buddy had even stopped the car the Mariner came striding out of the house barelegged in his cowardly Yankee general raincoat and slouch hat, unfurling an enormous black umbrella.

“Look at this fucking nitwit,” said Deirdre. Buddy looked at the fucking nitwit. Deirdre unsnapped her seatbelt. “So are you coming in?”

Oh fuck it. Fuck it fuck it. Fuck.

“All right,” said Buddy. He turned off the ignition, pulled out the key. “Fuck it,” he said, aloud this time.

“Oh good. Do you have to call work?”

“No.” He unbuckled his seatbelt. “I was lying, I don’t have to work today.”

“Watch, he’s gonna come around to your side, ‘cause he doesn’t give a flying fuck if I get soaked.”

Buddy took off his glasses, folded them, and put them in his shirt pocket.

“What a dickweed,” said Deirdre.

Through the streaming glass they watched the Ancient Mariner come out into the street to the driver’s side with the umbrella.

Joan was standing there smoking a cigarette just inside the open doorway when they came in.

“Hi, Buddy,” she said. “So you are staying for lunch, right?”

“Of course he is,” said the Mariner, shaking out the umbrella and closing the door, but at least not padlocking and bolting it.

“Hi, sweetheart,” Joan said to Deirdre, and she presented her cheek.

Deirdre came over and kissed her on the cheek, quickly.

“I have homework to do. I have a paper to write.”

“Okay,” said Joan, and Deirdre went away somewhere with her backpack.

“Let me take your jacket, Buddy,” said the Mariner.

“That’s okay, Stephen, I think I’ll keep it on for a while.”

There was a fire in a fireplace that Buddy didn’t remember noticing before, but the room was cool and damp. The Mariner took off his raincoat and hat and hung them on what was probably an authentic Breton coat stand. He was wearing an imposing grey turtleneck sweater, khaki shorts with lots of pockets, and wooden clogs with thick brown woolen socks speckled with red blotches.

“Would you like some coffee? Tea? Oh! What about a Bloody Mary!”


“Yeah, I could go for a Bloody Mary, thanks.”

“Splendid! Come with me into the cuisine!”

Joan stayed in the main room, but Buddy apparently had to, and did, go with the Mariner into the kitchen and watch him make the Bloody Marys, with accompanying boring commentary. The recipe involved V-8 instead of tomato juice, and fresh grated horseradish as well as -- and the Mariner said this was essential -- fresh grated ginger. He was liberal with the vodka, which Buddy couldn’t help but notice was Ketel One, and when Buddy tasted the finished drink he had to admit it was a great Bloody Mary.

Next up, Buddy had to look at the marinating pompano and listen to some boasting about how great their lunch was going to be. Then --

“Why don’t we take our drinks into my den?”

The Mariner gestured toward a door that Buddy would have thought led to a pantry, if he had thought about it.

He didn’t want to go in there.

“Okay,” said Buddy.

(Continued here, whether Buddy wants it to be continued or not.)

(Kindly go to the right-hand column of this page to find what one hopes is an up-to-date listing of links to all other published chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™. A Sheldon Leonard Production. Filmed in front of a live audience.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 192: rude

Let us rejoin our hero Arnold Schnabel (still trapped in the fictional persona of the bohemian poet “Porter Walker”, a character in Gertrude Evans's Ye Cannot Quench, a now sadly-obscure novel about a young woman coming of age in the literary milieu of 1950s New York City) in the men’s room of the Café San Remo in Greenwich Village, deep in conversation with a fly...

(Click here to go to our previous episode, or go here to return to the first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning multi-volume memoir. “Schnabel manages not only to achieve Proust’s goal of recapturing time, but also to render the very notion of time as meaningless.” -- Harold Bloom)

Great, I thought. Everybody always has a story. Even a fly.

“So, you want to hear all about how I became a fly?” asked the fly. “It is a cautionary tale. And one not without its metaphorical and symbolic significance.”

I’m afraid I only barely attempted to suppress my immediate response, which was a sigh of what might have been interpreted as prospective boredom, and which in fact it was.

“What? You don’t wanta hear about it?” said the fly.

“Oh, no, no,” I said, “I mean, yeah, sure --”

And, if a fly can be said to look hurt, then, well, the fly wore a hurt look on his face and in his multitudinous eyes.

“'Cause I’ll shut the hell up if you want me to.”

Which is exactly what I did want him to do. But of course I didn’t say that.

“Well, no, uh --”

“Good,” said the fly.

For a moment I thought I was finished but a brand new and healthy stream came gushing out of me.

“Y’know, I can see by your mode of dress that you are probably a literary man,” said the fly. “A poet probably. Am I right?”

“Well, yes, I suppose so --”

“I thought so. Well, then, let me suggest this: perhaps after you hear my story you could then take it and turn it into a grand epic poem --”

“Well, uh --”

“Or it doesn't have to be a poem, it could be a novel. Or maybe even a movie. Or both. Kinda like Gone With the Wind or From Here to Eternity. Except instead of about the Old South or the army it’s about a fly.”

“Um --”

“Believe me this story has all the elements of classical tragedy --”

“Look --”


“The thing is I really don’t have all day,” I said.

“Oh, I get it,” said the fly. “To talk to a fly. Who cares about a fly.”

“Well, it’s just that --”

I was hoping that my bladder was finally emptied, but no, there still seemed some more in there --

“It’s what? You don’t wanta be seen talking to a fly, right?”

“Well, yeah,” I said, “it’s partly that --”

I gave my purported organ of procreation an encouraging shake.

“And partly like you just don’t give a damn,” said the fly.

“Well, no, I give a damn,” I said, although to tell the truth I only gave the tiniest possible portion of the smallest possible damn.

“Okay, then I’ll tell ya my story.”

“But look,” I said, “the thing is I can’t really stand in here all afternoon.”

“I’ll make it quick.”

A final spurt came from me, at least I hoped it was final.

“You finished there?” asked the fly.

“Yes, I think so,” I said, giving it one last shake just to make sure.

“’Cause I can wait --”

“No --”

“By the way, if I may be so bold as to say so, I am detecting something more exalted in your micturition than the Rheingold and Schenley’s I usually get in this joint.”

“Well, I had some wine,” I said, finally putting the damned thing away and zipping up.

“No kidding? The French stuff?”

“Yes, it was French.”

“A white and a red, huh?”


I went over to the sink, and pressed some soap into my palm from the wall-mounted dispenser. The fly flew over and landed on top of the dispenser.

“What kind of wines were they exactly?”

“I don’t know, uh --” Don’t ask me why, but I made an effort to remember for the fly. “Chevrolet?”

“There’s no fucking wine called Chevrolet.”

He could really be very rude for a fly.

“’Chev’ something?” I said.

I turned on the water.

“Chevalier?” suggested the fly.

“Yeah, that was it I think.”

I started to wash my hands.


“Yeah, that was it.”

“Jesus Christ, and you didn’t even know what you were drinking.”

“I didn’t order it,” I said.

“No kidding. I’m afraid to ask what the red was.”

“Maybe you’d better not then,” I said.

I looked at the face in the mirror, this young and very good-looking fellow; he didn’t look like me, but, judging by what what was going on with him, he was me all right.

“Okay, was it a Bordeaux?” asked the fly. “It was a Bordeaux, wasn’t it?”

“I have no idea.”

“You kill me. Come on, what was it, I gotta know.”

“I don’t know, ‘Peter’, ‘Petrol’ --”

“Oh no.”


I turned off the taps, gave my hands a shake into the sink. Even my hands were better-looking.

“Do not tell me you were drinking Pétrus,” said the fly.

“Yeah, that was it,” I said.

I went over to the towel-roller thing on the wall and pulled out a section of clean cloth. The fly flew over and landed on top of the towel thing. He just wouldn’t leave me alone.

“No,” said the fly. “Please, seriously. Do not tell me you were drinking Pétrus.”

“Well, I was,” I said, drying my hands.

“Christ.” He rubbed his little legs together. “How was it?”

“The Pétrus?”

“Yes, the fucking Pétrus, how was it?”

“Pretty good,” I said.

“’Pretty good,’ he says.”

“Well, it was.”

“What a waste. What an incredible fucking waste.”

My hands were dry. I let go of the towel.

“Well, I have to go now,” I said.

“But wait, you said you were gonna listen to my story.”

“I was going to,” I said. “But instead you wanted to know what wine I was drinking.”

“Don’t rush out.”

“I have friends waiting for me.”



“I used to have friends.”

“I’m sure you did,” I said.

“So-called friends.”

“Well, look, maybe some other time,” I said.

“Yeah, I know how it is.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

You’re sorry.”

“Well, I am, but really --”

“I know, you got your friends waiting.”

“Well, you know --”

“I know. Believe me, I know. It’s okay. Go. Go already. Join your precious friends who probably have not even noticed your exalted absence.”

“Look,” I said, “maybe, uh, you can tell me your story, uh --”

“Right. Some other time. A rain check. Sure. Look, go ahead. Go. It’s okay, really.”

“Well -- all right.” I hesitated. I felt bad. “Look, if we were not some place so public --”


“I mean, if we were in my apartment I’d say, you know, go ahead --”

“Tell my story.”

“Yeah --”

“If we were in your apartment.”

“Uh, yeah --”

“You live around here?”

“Um, sort of --”

“Sorta like where?”

“Um, not too far I guess.”

“Yeah? Like where exactly?”

“Um, on Bleecker Street --”

“We’re right on Bleecker.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So how far away ya live?”

“I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure. Okay. All right.”

“I’m really not,” I said.

“Sure. I get it. Well, see ya, pal.”

“Goodbye,” I said.

I started to turn toward the door.

“What’s your name, Mac?”

“Me?” I said.

“No, the fucking door. What’s your name.”

“Arnold. I mean Porter.”

“What is it, Arnold or Porter.”

“Porter,” I said. “Porter.”

“Okay, ‘Porter’. I’ll catch you on the flip flop. Maybe.”

“Uh, sure --”

“You forgot to flush the urinal you know, ‘Porter’.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, and I started to go over to it, but the fly flew in front of me and hovered in front of my face.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to flush it,” he said.

“But that’s rude,” I said.

“Half the jerks come in here don’t bother to flush.”

“Well, I always do,” I said, and I started to step forward again, but this time the fly flew at me and actually bumped against my nose.

“I said don’t flush it for Christ’s sake.”

“Okay,” I said. “Jeeze.”

“Yeah, see ya later, pal, no hard feelings, maybe we’ll chat again. Porter. It is Porter, isn’t it?”


“See ya later, ‘Porter’.”

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

I turned and walked the couple of steps to the door, opened it to the noise of the bar and the voice of Perry Como on the juke box.

Before stepping out I looked back over my shoulder.

The fly had flown over to the basin of the urinal and was enjoying the dregs of the Chevalier-Montrachet and Pétrus which I had left there.

(Continued here, and until the men in the white coats finally arrive.)

(Please consult the right hand column of this page to find a stringently up-to-date listing of links to all other available chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven©. “Indeed one must reach all the way back to the Bard of Avon himself to find a poet in the English language who contained so many and such rich universes within himself.” -- Sir Kenneth Clark)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 42: not waving

It is the year 2003, the sun has gone down over the Pacific Ocean and a fine spring evening has settled upon the town of Hollywood, where the Technicolor flickering of a large-screen television set pulses from the living room windows of a certain Great Depression-era Mission/Tudor house on North Ivar Avenue...

(Click here to see our previous chapter; new arrivals anxious to find out what all the media fuss is about may click here to return to the first chapter of Uncle Buddy’s House©. Rated R for Meandering Dialogue.)

That night Buddy sat with Liz and Philip and Deirdre watching All That Heaven Allows on DVD when his cellphone rang. He had it right next to him on the end table and he picked it up before the second ring.


“Hi,” he said. “Hey, can you hang on a minute? I want to take this in the other room.”

He got up.

“You want us to pause it, Dad?” asked Liz.

“No, that’s okay,” he said.

“It’s his girlfriend,” said Deirdre.

“Hey, Dad, that Cordelia?” said Philip. “Tell her I say hi.”

“Tell her I say hi too,” said Deirdre.

“Tell her I think she’s hot,” said Liz.

“You go, Dad,” said Philip.

Buddy decided the kitchen wasn’t far enough, so he went through it and out to the back and stood by the pool.

“Hi, I’m back,” he said. “How are you?”

“Okay,” she said, not sounding very okay. “What were you doing?”

“Just watching a movie. What’s the matter?”

“I just got off the phone with my father.”


“I called him last night, and I gave him my number. I shouldn’t have. Now he’ll keep calling me.”

Buddy didn’t say anything.

“Hello?” she said.

“I’m here,” he said.

“He’s so annoying,” she said. “Do you know what he wants me to do?”


Buddy stared down at the unlit pool water.

“He wants me to ask you to have lunch with him and Joan on Saturday. He said he invited you but that you didn’t seem really enthusiastic.”

“He got that right.”

“Why does he want to have lunch with you?”

“What did he tell you?”

“He claimed it was all Joan. That she wanted to establish a relationship between you two, since you’re both father-figures for Deirdre.”

“That’s a load of crap.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

Now she didn’t say anything.

“So what did you tell him?” asked Buddy.

“I said I wasn’t going to ask you to do anything. I said you and I were friends and that’s it. And he said if we were friends then why couldn’t I ask you.”

Buddy looked at the water.



“Buddy, why is he being so weird?”

“Well, I can’t be sure, but I think he wants to tell me it’s okay for you and I to, uh, see each other.”

“Oh. And he would still get Joan to let Deirdre stay with you?”


“Why would he --”

“Again, I can’t say for sure, but I think he’s hoping I’ll give him parts in my movies, help his career. You know, he thinks I got you this part you’re playing now.”

Silence. Then --

“How could he be sure you would get him parts?” she asked.

“Well, I guess he couldn’t be sure.”

Another of their pauses here. The pauses were nice, silence was nice. Then:

“If you didn’t come through he would get Joan to demand full-time custody of Deirdre.”

Yeah, sure, but here was the nice thing about saying nothing, it meant at the very least you weren’t talking bullshit for once in your life.

“I’m gonna break my one-cigarette rule,” said Cordelia.

Buddy could hear or imagine he could hear her lighting up, inhaling and exhaling.

“So,” she said, “what are you gonna do?”

“I’m not gonna do anything. I’m sure as hell not going to eat lunch with the devious motherfucker.”

She made a sound that stood in for a laugh.

“Did he offer to make one of his signature dishes?”

“Yeah. Pompano, pompano with some shit or other --”

“Pomegranate coulis.”

“Yeah, that’s it,” he said.

“You don’t know what you’re missing.” He listened, while she said nothing for a few moments, smoking her cigarette. Then she said, “When this show is over I’m going to take my money and move back to New York.”

“That’s probably a great idea.”

“I don’t even want to live in the same city with that man.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“I don’t care if he’s my father. I hate him.”

“He’s an asshole all right.”


“You’d like to go to bed with me, wouldn’t you,” she said.

“Sure,” he said.

A few more seconds passed. Then she said:

“Y’know, everybody here is really nice to me, even weirdo Joe, but you know what? I don’t feel like a movie star.”

“Well, you are, sort of.”

“But I don’t feel like one.”

“What do you feel like?”

“I feel -- fat.”

Buddy didn’t say anything to this.

“You’re laughing,” she said.

“No I’m not.”

“But I do feel fat. All I do all day is graze off craft services like some greedy cow. I can’t help myself. By the time I do this nude scene I’m going to look like a blimp.”

“I doubt that.”

“Buddy --”


“Never mind.”


There was more quiet and then Buddy said, “I love you, Cordelia.”


“Sorry. That just came out.”

“But -- you don’t know me.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I don’t love you. I don’t love you that way, Buddy.”

“Yeah, I know. Sorry, it was just a -- an eruption.”


“Um --” Nothing.

“I’m not attracted to you,” she said. “I mean, I like you, but -- you know what I mean.”


“It’s -- I mean, I really don’t want to go out with anybody, but if I go out with anybody I think it should be someone nearer my own age. Don’t you think?”

“Absolutely. I was just being an idiot.”

“I know,” she said.

He stood there with the phone pressed so tight to his ear that he realized his ear was hurting, and he let up on it a little bit.

“I should go to sleep,” she said. “I have an early call tomorrow.”

“Right. Well, good night.”

“Good night.”

A half hour later, Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman were having trouble with their relationship, Buddy’s cellphone rang again, it was her name on the screen, he quickly got up and went into the kitchen before the young people could say a fucking word.

“Hello,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“No, it’s okay.” Through the kitchen, out the door.

“Are you sure?”

“Sure I’m sure.”

“’Cause I could call tomorrow night, or --”

“No, not at all.” Into a deck-chair, the phone to his ear. “What’s up? Couldn’t sleep?”

“No. Listen.”

“Okay.” Staring up, at the hills, the lights, at nothing.

“Okay, there’s this guy on the crew, I think I told you about him when I was drunk.”

“Ah,” said Buddy. “The guy who likes you.”

“Yeah. Well, anyway -- he seems nice.”

“Uh huh. So --”

“Well, I sort of said I would be at this bar tomorrow night where he said he would be.”

“Sort of a date.”

“Well, not really, because it’s this bar that a lot of the company go to.”

“So, you’re thinking of --”

“You probably think I’m really fickle.”


“I’m not a slut you know.”

“I didn’t think you were --”

“I’m pathetic I’m so not a slut. I’ve hardly ever even had sex.”

Buddy didn’t say anything to this.

“Do you wish I hadn’t told you this? I mean about the guy.”

“Uh, yeah.”

“I’m sorry.”

“So -- you like this guy?”

“Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t be talking about it if I didn’t like him.”

“That’s true.”

“He’s the first assistant director.”


“So it’s okay?”

“Sure it’s okay. Why would it not be okay?”

“No reason.”

Neither of them said anything for half a minute. Then:

“D’ya know what you need, Buddy?”


“You need to have an affair with a woman nearer to your age.”

“Ah. Really?”

“I’m serious.”


“You should.”

“Okay, I’ll get to work on that.”


He didn’t tell her about Marjorie.


“Okay,” she said, “well, I really have to try to sleep right now.”

“Okay, good.”

“You mean good I’m getting off the phone or good I’m going to try to sleep.”

Somehow Buddy didn’t say anything to this, and she in turn said nothing to his saying nothing. But he kept the phone to his ear. He looked up at the hills, at all the thousands or millions of lights in the hills.

“What are you doing?” she said.

“I’m sitting out back by the pool.”

“What are you looking at?”

“Nothing. The hills. What are you doing?”

“Lying in bed.”

“What are you looking at?”

“I’m -- looking at my feet.”

“Oh. You have the light on?”

“No. But there’s enough light from the window for me to see my feet.”


“I don’t have the covers on.”

“Well, look --”


“Uh, thanks for calling.”



“But I interrupted your movie again, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but I can watch a movie any time.”

“Oh. Okay, good night.”

“Good night.”

He waited.

“You’re still there,” she said.

“Yeah, still here.”

“Me too,” she said.

“I’m glad.”

“Let me listen to you breathe,” she said.

Buddy adjusted the phone, and breathed for a while.

“Now let me listen to you breathe,” he said.

He listened for a minute.

“By the way, what are you wearing?” he asked.

“A t-shirt. And panties. Do you want to have phone sex?”

“Ah, I better not,” he said. “I’m sitting out by the pool y’know.”

“Okay. Well, I’m really gonna get off now. I have to get to sleep soon or I’ll look like shit tomorrow.”


“Goodnight, Buddy.”

Then the silence of the cellphone hang-up.

Buddy took the phone away from his ear and folded it up. Then he got up, went back into the kitchen and straight to the bourbon bottle.

(Continued here, after Buddy sobers up.)

(Please go to the right-hand column of this page to find an up-to-date listing of links to all other available chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™. Filmed with union crews in Los Angeles, California.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 191: wild one

Our intrepid hero Arnold Schnabel (exiled by the Prince of darkness to the pages of Ye Cannot Quench, a now-forgotten bestseller of 1950s New York City) has just been chatting with a four unknown friends in the San Remo Café in Greenwich Village when who should turn up but his own very personal lord and savior, “Josh”...

(Click here to go to our previous chapter, or go here to return to the very first episode of this Gold View Award™-winning 27-volume memoir.)

He had a different look; he’d gotten a shave and a haircut, he was wearing a nice pale blue summer suit with a blue tie and a straw trilby hat, but it was the same old Josh all right, smoking one of his same old Pall Malls, and I must say that although before I had never exactly been overcome with happiness by one of his appearances -- indeed often I had found them the cause of a deep consternation -- I was very glad to see him now.

“Hello, ‘Porter’,” he said, smiling.

So, he even knew my new name. Well, all right then, I would play along.

“Hello -- ” and I almost called him “Josh” but stopped myself, because for all I knew he had another name in this fictional universe. “How ya doin’ -- buddy?” I said.

We shook hands.

“Just great -- buddy. How about you?”

“Um --”

“He just signed a multi-million dollar deal to publish his damn epic poem, that’s how he’s doin’,” said Jack.


“No, not at all,” I said, I think I was blushing. “I mean, I did sort of make a deal for the book, but I’m only getting --”

“Don’t say it, Porter,” said Bill. “Because unless Smythe totally screwed you and only gave you like a double sawbuck advance you’ll have every deadbeat welsher in the Village cadging you for handouts night and day.”

“Yeah, starting with me,” said Gregory.

“Lunch at the Algonquin,” said Jack. “And all I got was half a pastrami sandwich.”

“And a cup of coffee,” said Allen.

“Yeah, big fuckin’ deal,” said Jack.

(I’ll just apologize right here, liebe Mutter, if you have again disregarded my continual injunctions not to look through my notebooks, but from here on I’m going to continue to record spoken language as I heard it and not even bother with asterisks or dashes, especially since as I write this I am still marooned in the universe of Miss Evans’s book, and I assume that if I ever do make it back to my own life that I will not bring this or any future notebooks with me.)

“Well, congratulations, anyway, Porter,” said Josh.

“Thank you,” I said, even though I hadn’t written the book in question in the first place.

“So, what’s everyone drinking here?” said Josh.

“Rheingold beer, sir,” said Bill. “But you must join us.”

“Well, maybe just for a glass,” said Josh. “Anyone want a shot?”

“Yes,” said Jack.

“Sure,” said Gregory.

“I’m in,” said Bill.

“Well, what the heck,” said Allen, “just to celebrate Porter’s good fortune.”

“What’s your moniker, by the way, pardner?” Bill asked Josh, suddenly sounding like an old western character.

“Josh,” said Josh. “Josh -- Christian.”

“Josh Christian.”

“That’s right.”

Well, no one could say he didn’t have a sense of humor.

The other four fellows all introduced themselves, a loud rock-and-roll song came on the juke box, something about some guy being a real wild one, Josh shook everyone’s hands in turn, and while this was going on I suddenly realized that I really had to go to the men’s room, and urgently. I hadn’t gone at the hotel and now everything I had drunk at lunch all at once caught up with me.

“Excuse me,” I mumbled, under the loud music, “I’ll be right back.”

“Wait,” said Josh, and he put his hand on my arm. “Arnold,” he whispered, “don’t run off, I’m here to help.

“I, um --”


“He’s got to take a piss,” said Gregory.

“Oh,” said Josh. “Sorry.” He dropped to a whisper again. “I forget,” he said, shrugging.

(Of course he forgot. He might assume the form of a man, but somehow he just couldn’t quite grasp all that being a man entailed, like the fact that after a couple of beers and a bottle of wine and a brandy you’re going to have to hit the men’s room sometime in the near future.)

“I’ll be right back,” I assured him again, and I headed toward the back of the bar.

Being an old pro at this sort of thing I was able to find the men’s room without undue difficulty. It was one of those small smelly ones with only one stall and one urinal, and fortunately no one else was in it. Or so it seemed.

I was relieving myself at the urinal, and all was going well except for a buzzing fly circling my head.

I began to hear a voice (“Hey, buddy,” it said, “a little early in the day to have half a load on, isn’t it?”), but I wasn’t too alarmed, as it seemed to be coming from within my head. This was something that happened quite a bit during my stay at Byberry, but the frequency and average duration of these inner visitations had steadily decreased in the months after my release, a diminution so gradual that I was barely aware of it when they ceased altogether a couple of months or so ago. But the main thing I've learned about voices in your head is that you just have to ignore them, just as you would any other annoyance in life. They usually go away if you just concentrate on something else, and in this case I concentrated on voiding my bladder, which was no less satisfying in the world of a novel than it was in real life, which made me wonder at the absence of urination from other novels and stories, not to mention TV shows and movies, in which on the rare occasions that people did go to the bathroom it was only to wash their hands and comb their hair...

“And this is what you think about when you’re all alone?” said the voice. “This is the depth of your profundity?”

“I have never claimed to be profound,” I said aloud. (After all I was alone in the lavatory, and outside the loud rock-and-roll music blared.)

“But you have one life to live, and this is the sort of subject you choose to muse upon? Peeing, and its absence from the narrative arts?”

“Well, when you think about it, all visual arts too, pretty much,” I said, “except for certain novelty cigarette lighters and such, you know, the kind with a little boy taking a --.”

“You’re pathetic.”

“Listen,” I said, “The scribes of the earth have spent untold millions of words describing less important and certainly less enjoyable activities. Don’t you think it’s odd that tradition would deem this perfectly natural act as unworthy of written description, of pictorial or even sculptural interpretation --”

“What about songs,” said the voice. “Songs, too, I suppose?”

“Okay, songs, too,” I said. “Why not songs?”

“You want songs about pissing.”

“Well, not necessarily about pissing, per se --”

“Okay, how about whole operas all about pissing? Why not a Wagnerian cycle of operas about pissing?”

“Listen, I’m not saying --”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Maybe so.”


“Look, all I’m saying is I just think it’s, I don’t know, unrealistic that no one in novels or movies ever has to go to the bathroom --”

“So I guess you want to see people shitting too?”

“Well, that’s a little different,” I said.

“Look, don’t worry, pal. I’m sure your masterpiece will open the floodgates so to speak. By the 1990s there’ll be obligatory peeing and pooping scenes in every half-assed novel published, not to mention popular Hollywood comedies, so relax, your work is done, you’ve made your great contribution to western culture.”

It was around this point I realized that the voice was coming not from inside my head but from the fly, which was now sitting on top of the urinal I was still doing my business in. It was staring at me. That is the fly was, not the urinal.

“Oh, Christ,” I said.

I’ve never liked anyone looking at me while I urinate, and it didn’t make it any easier that the voyeur in this case was a fly.

“Am I bothering you?” said the fly.

“Yes, in fact you are,” I said.

“Tough shit.”

“Oh, okay.”

Boy, I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but the thing is I hadn’t quite finished urinating. Each time I thought I might be done there was a brief pause and then a fresh new stream would burst out of me.

“Jesus Christ, pal, how many beers did you drink?”

“None of your business,” I said.

“All right, don’t get pissy. Ha ha. Get it? Don’t get pissy.”

“I get it,” I said.

“Idiot. Go ahead, finish so you can go home and write a novel about pissing and pooping.”

“You’ve got a lot of nerve.”

“Whaddaya mean?”

“You. Talking about pissing and pooping. At least I don’t eat poop.”

“Oh. Okay.”


“It’s gonna be like that is it?”

“Well, it’s only the truth isn’t it? You’re a fly. You eat poop.”

“That’s cold, pal.”

“Sorry,” I said, although I wasn’t really.

“You think I like eating poop?”

“I can only assume you do,” I said.

“That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.”


Yes, I was still urinating. Damn Julian for making me drink so much.

“Yes,” continued the fly. “It’s true, I may eat poop, because, yes, I am a fly, and, ergo, I eat poop. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.”

“Then don’t do it.”

“I have to do it. I’m a fly.”

“An annoying fly.”


“But what?”

“But,” said the fly, “I wasn’t always a fly.”

(Continued here, no one knows why.)

(Kindly look to the right hand column of this page for a what is quite often an up-to-date listing of links to all other published chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven© “Schnabel’s story is the story of mankind.” -- Harold Bloom)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 41: fiendish plan

Let’s rejoin our hero Buddy Best, at present in recovery from a conversation with one of his least favorite people, that ham actor whom Buddy chooses to refer to as “The Ancient Mariner”, the father of the lovely Cordelia, the young woman whom Buddy is possibly impossibly in love with...

(Click here to go to our previous chapter; if you must you may click here to return to the first chapter of Uncle Buddy’s House©. Rated R for sex, drugs, and poor plotting.)

Buddy had to go meet Marjorie Goldsmith and a writer from Entertainment Weekly at Musso’s. The writer was this little chick who was even shorter than Marjorie and had a voice like a fourteen-year-old’s, but she was nice, and weirdly respectful. Buddy felt a little sorry for her that he wasn’t Jude Law or Colin Farrell, but he got through the interview, playing his part, the hardscrabble no-nonsense independent, and as Marjorie saw the girl out he sat in the booth and thought about some of the idiotic things he had just said.

Marjorie came back and slid in across from him.

“You were marvelous, Buddy.”

“Yeah, right, hey, you sure she isn’t writing this for her high school newspaper?”

“She, dear boy, has a Master’s in journalism from Columbia.”

“Well, it’s nice to know she’s not wasting her degree.”

“Now, would you like to go to the Chateau Marmont for some tea?”



“At the Marmont?”

“I’ve got a suite booked for the day.”

“What are you, crazy?”

“Sony’s paying for it. I had the Coen brothers in there all morning meeting with the Japanese press.”

“Let’s go,” said Buddy.

(They drove separately, and on the way over Buddy realized, annoyingly, that he should get some condoms, and he had to detour down to the CVS near the Ramada Hotel on Santa Monica, and stand in line, feeling very middle-aged, and he bought a tin of Altoids peppermints, just to be buying something else besides his packet of extra-thins, not that the cashier gave a flying fuck.)

He had to admit, it was even more fun than the first time, and afterwards the expense-account-mad witch even ordered up a good bottle of Chardonnay. (Buddy had insisted on no champagne.) So they lay in bed and sipped the wine, and she even pulled a joint out of her purse.

“How is your mystery woman, Buddy?”

“Still a mystery. How is your husband?”

She gave him a little slap, and then she climbed up on top of him, lying on him and looking into his eyes.

“I must know who this minx is,” she said, expertly toking and then putting the joint between his lips. Buddy duly toked and she took the joint out of his lips.

“What exactly is a minx anyway?” he asked.

“I have no idea. A small furry animal? But who is she?”

“I can’t believe you don’t know.”

“You mean it’s common knowledge?”

She seemed professionally offended at this possibility.

“Forget it.”

“So -- that means -- Debbie would know!”

“Ah, Christ.”

“If anyone does she would know. Wait. It’s not Debbie, is it?”

Buddy tried to push her off but she held on to his shoulders.

“No,” she said, staring into his eyes from varying angles. “Not Debbie. But I’ll find out.”

“I’m sure you will.”

“So why not tell me now.”

“’Cause there’s nothing to tell.”

“Then tell me if there’s nothing to tell.”

So, finally, after more wine, and the joint, he told her, the whole weird story.

“That is a fantastic tale,” she said. “You naughty, naughty man.”

“Yeah, well, the only thing I don’t get is that weirdness with the Mariner today. What’s he up to?”

“That’s obvious. He thinks that you got Cordelia the lead in this Chris Lambert movie. So, he thinks by being nice to you and giving you the okay to ravish his only daughter that you will be nice to him and continue to give him parts in your movies. Or, put another way, if you agree to get him work he will let you fuck his daughter.”

“Oh,” said Buddy.

“Yes,” she said, caressing him down below, to some effect. “Oh.”

“But no way I will ever cast him again. He’s so deluded.”

“Well, then you can forget about fucking his daughter.”

“I already had forgot about it,” he lied.

“Shut up now,” she said, and she climbed up on top of him. “Let’s get Sony’s money’s worth out of this bed.”

Not much post-coital badinage after this one.

(He hadn’t come, which he didn’t mind, he was fifty-two years old after all and happy just to get it up at all, let alone twice in one afternoon. Marjorie however had come, or, if she hadn’t come she had given a pretty damn good impersonation of a woman coming.)

Buddy was still lying there breathing heavily as she briskly got herself dressed.

“Bugger,” she said.


Bugger bugger bugger.

Now what the fuck had he done? Was she going to start getting psycho on his ass already?

“What’s the matter, Marjorie?”

“Bugger! Where is my other shoe?”

Under the bed, generally, in Buddy’s experience, but he didn’t say this, and she was poking around under it pretty soon anyway, and sure enough she came up with it.

“Ah! Got you!”

And then there was another flurry of buggers.

“Marjorie, was there something I said?”

“What? Oh, no, darling! You’ve been marvelous. It’s just Terence and his soccer.”


“My son, you silly. At his soccer -- no -- baseball practice.”


“Must run, must pick him up. Take a nap, darling, then order up some coffee or tea if you like, it’s all on Sony, little Jap fools, let’s spend their money.”

Soon she had blown out the door, and, fuck it, Buddy decided to have a little doze on Sony.

(Continued here, after Buddy wakes up.)

(Feel free to go to the right-hand column of this page to find an absolutely up-to-date listing of links to all other published chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™. Portions of our story filmed on location at the fabulous Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, where for several generations the royalty of the entertainment industry have stopped to enjoy comfortable lodgings, fine European cuisine, high-powered wheeling-and-dealing and discreet recreation.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 190: SPring-7

Our hero Arnold Schnabel has found himself stranded in a sadly obscure best-seller of yesteryear, a tale of 1950s New York called Ye Cannot Quench (written by Gertrude Evans, author of such other unjustly out-of-print classics as Weep Not For the Asphodel, My Second Cousin Herbert, Humid Nights in Paris, and The Lady Came From Poughkeepsie), wherein he has been thrust with no rehearsal and no script into the demanding role of "Porter Walker", romantic young poet...

(Go here to see our previous chapter, or click here to go to the very first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning memoir.)

I wasn’t familiar with this neighborhood, but it seemed much less intimidating than the midtown area I had just been driven from. There were actually trees to be seen here and there and even plants outside people’s windows; the streets and sidewalks were only moderately busy, the buildings were not forbiddingly tall, and although the world was still in black-and-white the warm air smelled almost clean, with hints of savory foods and baked goods; many of the passersby seemed dressed not to work in offices but on docks or in pool halls, and pretty girls strolled by in summery dresses or in slacks, as if for a Sunday picnic or perhaps to attend a hootenanny; indeed I saw various young people carrying guitars and banjos and bongo drums, flutes and autoharps and balalaikas, and even the odd ukelele or two.

For a moment I just stood there, letting life and the world flow by me, all these people driving and walking somewhere or other for some reason or other. And here was I, wanting only to take a long drunken nap but not knowing where my bed was.

Perhaps I should just wait until a bus or a garbage truck came down the street at a suitable speed and then step out in front of it.

And after all, wasn’t this just the sort of thing Porter Walker was liable to do?

Yes. Just the sort of idiotic attention-grabbing and inconsiderate thing Porter would do.

However, wasn’t I (I being Arnold) after all supposed to be trying to establish my independence from Miss Evans’s novel and her boring characterizations?

But on the other hand what if Porter’s demise meant -- just as, when one is about to be devoured by a boogey-man in a dream, one suddenly awakens in one’s own bed -- that I would wake up in my own humble cot in the attic of my aunts’ house, breathing a great sigh of relief and vowing never again to read another single sentence of Miss Evans’s book?

Or, would Porter’s extinction mean my own death? Which would further mean -- unless the theology I had been taught was spurious -- that as a suicide my immortal soul would be cast summarily down to the fires of Hell, and Lucky or Nicky or whatever the hell his name was would have the last laugh. For all eternity.

Perhaps, after all, driving me to self-slaughter was the culmination of Lucky’s fiendish master plan.

Okay then, I would not throw myself in front of a truck.

At least not yet I wouldn’t.

I considered two courses of action.

Course one: to find a convenient alleyway and bed down for a couple of hours behind some trash bins.

Course two: to find out where I lived, and then to go there.

I decided provisionally to go for the second course, at least for the time being.

There was a bar on the corner there, the “San Remo Café”. I walked over and went inside.

It was only about three-thirty in the afternoon but the place was already pretty full, and after the relatively fresh summer air on the street I breathed in that comforting universal tavern miasma of whiskey and stale beer, of tobacco smoke and urine.

Four fellows sitting in a booth near the entrance hailed me. I waved at them, but kept on toward the far end of the bar to what I wanted, the wood-and-glass telephone booth I saw in the dimness back there.

The booth was unoccupied. I opened the door, went in, closed the door after me, a little light went on over my head. A telephone directory lay on the little wooden ledge. I opened it up and looked for the name Morgenstern. I found it soon enough, or rather I found several hundred repetitions of it. I leaned my forehead against the cool hard upper edge of the telephone apparatus. I could start dialing Morgensterns at random, but how long would it take before I found my neighbors? Would my head not explode after the twenty-seventh call? Did I even have enough money on me to exchange for dimes and to call every single Morgenstern on these pages?

And then I noticed the number on the telephone dial. It was a SPring-7 exchange. This bar was in Greenwich Village. My apartment, down the hall from the Morgensterns, was in Greenwich Village. Ergo, very likely, my neighbors the Morgensterns also had a SPring-7 exchange. Quickly I scanned the directory columns again. There were only a dozen or so Morgenstern numbers with the SPring-7 prefix, and a tiny blossom of hope bloomed within my sodden soul.

I reached into my pockets, and came up with a quarter, two dimes, four nickels, and some useless pennies. I started dialing. The first three calls produced only awkwardness and embarrassment, but on the fourth one I hit pay dirt.

A woman answered, and I recognized her voice.

“Mrs., uh, Morgenstern?”

“Yeah, is that you, Mr. Walker?”

“Uh, yes, it is.”

“So what’re you calling about?”

“I -- uh -- I was wondering if I got any phone calls today.”

“No. No calls. Why, you expecting one?”

“Uh, no, not really.”

“Then why are you wasting your dime?”

“I --” I had another one of my famous brainwaves. “Well, to tell the truth I just wanted to call you and tell you some good news.”

“You couldn’t wait to get home?”

“Well, I suppose I could have --”

“So what’s the good news? You get a job?”

“No. But I’m getting my book published. My poem.”

“Somebody’s publishing your meshuggenah poem?”


“I don’t believe it. And they’re paying you money for it?”



“I know.”

“I’m proud of you, Mr. Walker. Maybe I should read your poem.”

“Oh, it’s not very good,” I said.

“Ah, you’re just being modest.”

“No, it really is not very good.”

“You make me laugh. Stop by our place tonight. We’ll celebrate.”

“Maybe I will.”

“Maybe he says.”

“Well, I’ll talk to you later, Mrs. Morgenstern,” I said.

“Bye-bye, Mr. Walker. Congratulations.”

Normally I think it’s very rude of people to tear the pages out of telephone directories, but I didn’t have a pencil or pen, so I tore out the page with the Morgensterns’ phone number and their address, which fortunately was on Bleecker Street, the same street I was already on. The building couldn’t be too far away, and soon I would be in my little poet’s apartment, sound asleep.

But then, just as I was about to pull open the folding door of the booth, and only then, it occurred to me to check my wallet. I took it out, opened it up, and there the first card I looked at was my New York chauffeur’s license, with the same Bleecker Street address I had just so laboriously discovered.

This had always been my life’s modus operandi.

If I were given the choice between the simple and obvious solution of a problem and some complicated, absurd and usually doomed song-and-dance, it was a pretty safe bet that I would take the latter course.

Oh well. I put the wallet away, got out of the phone booth and headed for the entrance.

The four fellows who had hailed me before now hailed me again.

“Porter, you reprobate, come join us,” called one slightly cadaverous-looking fair-haired fellow.

I tentatively walked over to the booth. I had an awful feeling that these men were fellow poets, or at least novelists, which might be even worse. But I didn’t want to seem rude, even if they were only characters in a novel.

“Heard you lost your gig, man,” said the fellow who had spoken. He had glasses on, he wore a grey suit and a striped tie, and he looked a little like George Sanders.

I didn’t know what he meant by “gig”, but I pretended I did. Don’t ask me why.

“Uh, yeah,” I said.

“Sit down, old chum, I’ll buy you a beer.”

On second thought he looked more like Leslie Howard.

“We’ll all buy you a beer,” said a little curly-haired fellow, who looked like Sal Mineo. He was wearing a newsboy's cap and a striped pullover jersey, kind of like the ones French sailors wear, at least the ones in movies.

“What’s ours is yours,” said another dark-haired guy. This one looked like John Garfield. He had glasses on and he was wearing a wrinkled short-sleeved sport shirt.

“Sit the hell down,” said the fourth guy, who looked like Stuart Whitman, or maybe Stephen Boyd. He was dressed the way you might imagine a lumberjack to dress, or maybe one of those guys who climb up telephone poles for a living.

“Well, to tell the truth I’m already slightly drunk,” I said. I was moved by their good-fellowship, but I knew that if I had another beer I would pass out at the table.

“Little early in the day for you, Porter,” said the Leslie Howard guy.

“Well, someone bought me lunch,” I said.

“What?” said the Stephen Boyd guy. “Who bought you lunch?”

I have to admit that this question struck me as slightly unfeeling, as if he found it surprising that anyone would buy me lunch, but I answered his question.

“Well, a guy named Julian Smythe --”

“Smythe? From Smythe & Son?”

“Uh, yes.”

“Oh, boy,” said the Leslie Howard guy.

“You mean he’s bought your book?” said the Boyd guy.

“Well, yeah --”

“Congratulations, Porter,” said the Garfield guy.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Damn, I’m gonna write an epic poem,” said the Sal Mineo fellow.

“Where’d he take you to lunch?” asked Boyd.

It was a matter of only of a second or two for me to dredge up the answer to this question.

“The Oak Room, at the Algonquin Hotel.”

“Ritzy,” said Leslie Howard. “What’d ya have?”

“A T-bone.”

“T-bone, huh? Anything good to drink?”

“Yes, Czech Pilsener. And some wine. And brandy.”

“Brandy,” said Stephen Boyd.

“And wine,” said Sal Mineo.

“Any dessert?” asked John Garfield.

“No, I passed on dessert.”

“I hear they have a great cherries jubilee there.”

“And the best I ever got from Cowley over at Viking was half a pastrami sandwich and a cup of coffee,” said Stephen Boyd.

“We mustn’t begrudge others their good fortune, Jack,” said Leslie Howard.

“I’m afraid to ask what your advance was,” said Jack.

“A gentleman doesn’t ask such things,” said Leslie Howard.

“Yeah, but just between us and the wall, what was your advance?” said Sal Mineo.

“Gregory --” said John Garfield.

“He ain’t gotta say if he don’t wanta, Allen,” said Gregory (I was consciously trying to remember their names as they were spoken, since for all I knew these were my best friends).

“Don’t tell them, Porter,” said Leslie Howard.

“Fuck you, Bill,” said Gregory.

“You only wish,” said Bill.

“Our pitcher’s empty,” said Jack.

It’s true, their beer pitcher was empty, and I wondered if I had enough on me to buy them another one, just to get them off my back, but just then I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Let me buy a round,” said a familiar voice.

I turned around.

It was Josh.

(Continued here, and then well into the next several decades.)

(Please consult the right hand column of this page to find an up-to-the-minute listing of links to all other published chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven© “Schnabel blows my fucking mind.” -- Harold Bloom)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 40: two daughters

Let us return to a certain somewhat run-down Mission/Tudor house (built in 1931 for the popular cinematic comedian Joe E. Brown), in Hollywood, California, on North Ivar Avenue, in that no longer glamorous stretch between Yucca and Hollywood Boulevard, a house belonging to one Mr. Buddy Best...

(Click here to go to our previous chapter; the curious may go here to return to the beginning of Uncle Buddy’s House©, an American International Production in association with Larry Winchester Productions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Uneeda Cracker Corporation.)

The next day, Sunday, after he got back from dropping Deirdre off at the Mariner’s, and after Liz had cleared away the breakfast stuff, Buddy and Philip sat down at the kitchen table to make the supposedly final corrections on what they were lamely calling Nikki Palmer II.

A couple of hours later Buddy said, “Fuck it, that’s enough. Print it up and I’ll run it by Harvey, and Iggy, but I think we got a pretty good script here.”

“Cool. So what’s my next job?”

“Well -- I’ve been thinking about that, and I talked it over with Harvey, and here’s the deal. Y’know, ever since the studio gave us more money to finish up this first Nikki Palmer thing it’s all turning into a big fucking deal --”


“Which is cool, definitely, but it’s a fuckload more work, and meanwhile we’re locked into shooting the sequel this August. It’s just like, whoa, a lot of fucking work for Uncle Buddy, y’know?”


“Right, so --”

“So you wanta hire me as like a producer?”

“Uh, no, not exactly.”

“Or like associate producer?”

“No, I was thinking more like production assistant.”


“Let’s call it assistant to the producer.”


“One of the producers, anyway. Me, namely.”


“It’s a chance to learn movies.”

“Okay. Sure.”

“Think of it as film school except instead of you paying tuition, we pay you.”


“The money won’t be great, though.”

“Dad, do you know what I was making at my straight job? Which I hated?”

“No idea.”

“Not too much. So, like when do I start.”

“We’ll put you on the payroll starting this week.”


“This is total nepotism, so don’t embarrass me or I’ll fire your ass.”


“Oh, and by the way, see if you can come up with a good sequel title, you know, maybe something more original than Nikki Palmer II. ”

Deep Inside Nikki Palmer?”

“Keep trying.”

“Okay. Hey, Dad, I wanted to ask you something.”


“Am I like a total pussy if I just give the fucking house to Cynthia?”

“Why do you want to do that, Phil?”

“Because I just want her out of my hair, Dad. Out of my life.”

“Did you call the lawyer yet?”

“No. I’ve been putting it off.”

Buddy had helped Philip buy a little house in Silverlake when Philip had gotten married. Helped? He had given him the down-payment and paid all the fees.

“Tell you what, Phil: talk to the lawyer first. Talk it over with him, see what your options are. If you still want to give her the house, go ahead.”

“At least I won’t have to worry about keeping up the mortgage any more.”

“You got a point there, kid.”

Buddy pushed his chair back and got up.

“Where ya goin’, Dad?”

“Recording studio. We got half the L.A. Philharmonic in there on overtime. You wanta come?”

“Rock out.”

The phone rang. Would it be her? All hungover and cute? But she’d been calling his cellphone, just as he’d asked her to. Still -- but no, he had to get to the studio --

“Want me to get it, Dad?”

“No, let the machine get it.”

He stood there near the kitchen entrance listening for the answering machine in the living room.

Hi, Buddy, this is Shakira. Are you there?

“Philip,” said Buddy, “you wanta talk to your mom? I really gotta get to the studio.”

“Shit, I’d rather go to the studio.”

Liz opened the back door, wearing her gardening gloves, Madge/Shakira on the machine asking if anyone was there at all, anyone, and Liz said, “Isn’t anyone going to pick that up?”

“Hey, Liz,” said Buddy, “do me a favor, will ya?”

She gave him a look.

Philip?” said Madge’s voice, “Liz? What about you, Deirdre? Is anyone home?

Liz rolled her eyes but she picked up the wall phone.

“Mom. Mom. Mom, it’s me. It’s me, Mom --”

Buddy and Philip got the hell out of there.


That week it became apparent that they needed some of the Ancient Mariner’s lines to be re-recorded. Iggy had suggested calling in another actor to do the ADR, because: A, the Mariner was a pain in the ass; B, most of the Mariner’s lines that had to be redone had to be redone not because of technical problems but because the Mariner had fucked up the lines in the first place; and C, he would probably continue to fuck the lines up in the dubbing. But Buddy said no, as much as the Mariner sucked, it was always better to get the original actor to dub his own lines, so they scheduled him for Thursday afternoon. Buddy had intended to leave the recording studio before the Mariner arrived but there was some fucking delay or other and the Mariner was just coming into the anteroom as Buddy was leaving.

“Oh, Buddy, so good to see you.”

He held out his claw and Buddy took it, as briefly as he could.

“Hi, Stephen.”

“So, how are you?”

“Okay. Very busy, you know. Thanks by the way, for coming in and doing this. I’ll see you get a check right away.”

“Oh, I don’t worry about that,” said the Mariner. “So you’re -- fine?”

“Yeah, sure, how’re you? And Joan?”

“Good. Good. Really good.”

And it occurred to Buddy that he still hadn’t talked to Joan about getting a divorce. And why? Well, because he really didn’t want to talk to her. Or to this nitwit --

“I think I know what you’re thinking, Buddy.”


“What you’re thinking.”

Three or four responses came to Buddy’s mind but he vocalized none of them.

“We should talk,” said the Mariner.


“Yes.” Did he mean about the divorce? “But not here of course,” said the Mariner.

“Uh, no --”

“This is not the place.”

“True. Besides, we’ve got a looping session booked for you --”

“Yes. Quite. Tell you what. Why don’t you pop in this Saturday when you drop Deirdre off?”

“Well -- I’ll have to check my calendar -- I’ve been working seven days a week on this post-production shit, but --”

“I could make you lunch. Do you care for pompano? I have a recipe for pompano with pomegranate coulis and everyone who’s ever had it says it’s the best fish they’ve ever tasted. Everyone says so.”


“Yes. I get the pompano glistening fresh from the docks. I have some fishermen friends you see.”


“Wonderful chaps.”

“Well, look, Stephen, I can’t really be sure about lunch, but if Joan wants to call me --”

“If you can’t make it for lunch perhaps we could do dinner. Or Sunday brunch perhaps. Because I really want you to try my pompano. It is sublime.”

“I’m sure it is.”

“I must give you my recipe. What I do is I sear the fish in clarified butter, and it must be clarified, then -- after I have seared both sides -- I quench the fish in white wine, or perhaps I’ll use sherry or even dry vermouth -- or even a healthy dash of Lillet --”

“Well, look, Stephen, maybe you could just write it down for me some time --”

“Yes, of course.”

And Buddy tried to go past, but --

“Oh,” said the Mariner, “I heard from Cordelia last night.”

“Oh? Good.”

“You know, Buddy, I just want you to know that there are no hard feelings on my part. I know these things happen. And she is an attractive girl.”

“Right. Well, tell her I say hi.”

“I will.”

And Buddy tried to get away again but the fucker clamped his talons on Buddy’s arm.

“Buddy, I want to thank you. For her.”

“For what?”

“For getting her that part, of course.”

“She told you that?”

“Not in so many words; she told me you merely helped her get the audition --”

“And that’s all I did.”

The Mariner smiled, faux-wisely.

“Oh, I’m sure that’s all you did.”

“But I’m telling you --”

Buddy tried to pull his arm away but the Mariner held onto it.

“You’re a good man, Buddy Best. And I want to say -- that agreement we made over the phone, concerning Cordelia, and Deirdre --”

“The famous Two Daughters Agreement.”

“Yes. I want to say that, well, I admit, I was angry, I was hurt, hurt as only a father can be hurt -- but now -- well, at the proper time we will talk about the whole business. Man to man.”

Iggy came out of the recording studio and looked at Buddy and the Mariner.

“That’s okay, Stephen. We don’t have to talk about it, and I’m not going to, uh, see her.”

Buddy sought and failed again to free his arm from the Mariner’s grappling-hook.

“But -- she is -- oh, this is so difficult for me, because she is my daughter, but besides her obvious physical charms, even if she is a bit oh shall we say rondelette --”

Now Heather came out of the studio.

“What?” said Buddy.

Rondelette. Oh, what’s the word in English? Chubby. Yes. But in a healthy way.”

“Christ, I hope you don’t say that to her.”

“Well, I do enjoin her to try to keep a fit figure. An actress’s body is her primary instrument, you know.”

“Uh huh.”

The recording engineer came out of the studio and joined Iggy and Heather.

“But, as I say, besides her fleshly charms -- and perhaps you are a man who appreciates a bit of -- embonpont -- she has also a certain, oh, how shall I put it --”

Je ne sais quoi?”

“Yes, exactly. A certain je ne sais quoi.”

“Right, well --”

Once again Buddy tried to wrest his arm free, but the Mariner’s death-grip held.

“We really should have a good talk, just you and me, a nice stroll along the beach.”

“What about Joan?”

“What about Joan?” said the Mariner, all innocence.

“How’s she going to take you and me chatting on the beach?”

The Mariner chuckled.

“Oh, leave Joan to me.”

Gladly, thought Buddy. And you to her.

Iggy and Heather and the engineer had all lit up cigarettes.

“Okay, well, look, Stephen, I really gotta run, and I think you’ve got some ADR work to do.”

“Yes, quite.” Finally he let loose his hold on Buddy’s tingling arm. “So, we’ll keep it open about lunch Saturday?”

“Right, keep it open.”

Buddy shook out his arm, getting the bloodflow back before gangrene could set in.

“Perhaps we can make a day of it,” said the Mariner. “Play some frisbee.”

“Well, we’ll see, Stephen.”

“Because we really should talk,” said the Mariner. And then, gently, “About Cordelia.”

“But I already told you, you have nothing to worry about. I’m not going to have anything to do with Cordelia.”

“But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Buddy didn’t say anything.

“We’ll talk.”

Buddy didn’t say a thing out loud.

Au revoir, Buddy.”

“Okay. Later.”

(Continued here, although Buddy may wish otherwise.)

(Kindly go to the right-hand column of this page to find a scrupulously up-to-date listing of links to all other published episodes of Uncle Buddy’s House™, not a pretty story but one we insist on telling anyway.

Friday, March 5, 2010

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part 189: mangy dog

Our hero Arnold Schnabel has been exiled by the Prince of Darkness to a once-popular but now obscure novel of 1950s New York City entitled Ye Cannot Quench (written by Gertrude Evans, author of numerous other sadly out-of-print best-sellers, such as Tallahassee Weekend, My Name Is Dorothy, A Girl By Any Other Name, and Dance Naked Beneath the Stars, still going strong by the way and writing a nationally-syndicated advice column for senior citizens called “Just Ask Gertrude”) where he finds himself in the role of “Porter Walker”, romantic poet and one of the love interests of the book’s heroine, Emily.

(Go here to see our previous chapter, or click here to go to the very first chapter of this Gold View Award™-winning memoir.)

Where exactly did I live?

Somewhere downtown, but that wasn’t much help.

On the second or third floor of an old apartment building, down the hall from a family named Morgenstern...

“Just take me downtown,” I said.

“Sure, buddy, just tell me when to stop.”

“Okay,” I said. “Um, but will you tell me when we get there?”


“Yeah, if you don’t mind.”

He turned around to look at me, which I found disconcerting, because the cab was now driving at speed through busy traffic. He had a lit cigar in his mouth, and he took it out with his right hand, leaving just his left hand on the steering wheel.

“You live downtown,” he said, “but you need me to tell you when we get there?”

“I’m – uh – I’m a recent arrival,” I said.

I was sweating now. It was a hot day. And also I was afraid he was going to crash the cab.

He turned back to face through the windscreen, but he was still eyeing me through the rear-view mirror.

“How recent?” he asked.

“Pardon me?”

“How goddam recently have you arrived?”

“Um, like, uh, a few days ago?”

“You don’t seem too sure,” he said.

I slumped back into my seat.

I had nothing more to say.

But the driver did.

“So whatta ya do for a living, pal?”

Why couldn’t he leave me alone? But undoubtedly it was boring driving a cab all day. And it was natural to want to talk to your fellow human beings. Although come to think of it one of the few things I actually liked about being a brakeman for all those years was that I didn’t really have to talk to people very much. I confess I never once had the urge to ask a passenger what his occupation was, how he liked the weather, what he thought of the Phillies’ chances this year, it was all a matter of indifference to me…

“Okay, you don’t gotta answer me. It ain’t none of my business, pal, what the hell ya do. I don’t give a flyin’ f-”

“I’m a poet,” I blurted.

“A poet?”

He turned around to look at me again as his car zoomed merrily along down the street.

“Yes,” I said, wishing I had said dentist, or bricklayer, accordionist, anything but what I had said.

“All my years driving a cab I gotta say you’re the first goddam poet I ever picked up.”

He turned to face front again just in time to step on the gas and beat a light the very second it was turning red.

“Not knowingly, anyways,” he said. He eyed me again in the rear-view, scrunching his eyebrows together, and taking a puff on his cigar. “Any money in that racket?”

“In poetry?”

“No – in goddam pork futures. Christ. Yes, in poetry. Any money in poetry?”

“Well,” I said, “uh, normally I would say no, not really.”

“But you’re doin’ okay, huh?”

“Well, I guess I am,” I said.

“Whaddaya make? Ya don’t mind my askin’.”

“Well, uh, right now I’m getting –” what did Julian say? Oh, right – “I guess I’m making fifty bucks a week –”

“So ya get paid by the week, huh?”


I didn’t want to get into the whole royalties and sliding-scale business, I didn’t understand it myself anyway.

“And this is fifty take-home?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said (although it occurred to me that I would be obligated to report this income for my taxes, one more thing to worry about –)

“Half a yard a week,” he said. He was still looking at me in the rear-view mirror, he seemed to be studying me. “Not bad,” he said. “Not bad. You guys got a union?”

“A union?”

“Yeah, like a poet’s union.”

“Not that I know of.”

“You gotta start a union, pal. Otherwise the bosses’ll screw ya. It’s like any other goddam profession.”

“That’s true, I guess –”

“Of course it’s true. Get together with some of your other poet buddies and start a goddam union.”


I didn’t mention that I had no poet buddies. In fact I’d never met a single other poet in my life. And I didn’t feel particularly bereft by this lack either. It was bad enough knowing myself.

“You got any books out?”

“Pardon me?”

“You got any books out I could buy, or maybe get outa the liberry?”

“Well, I’m supposed to have one out later this year --”

“No kidding? What’s it gonna be called?”

I drew a blank. What was it called? I was drawing a complete blank.

“It’s called, um, Life Is Like a Mangy Dog,” I said, just to say something.

He turned around to look at me again, while simultaneously stopping at a red light.

Life Is Like a Mangy Dog?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“And for this you get half a C-note a week.”

“Yeah –”

He was holding his cigar over the back of the seat, and some of the ash fell on my jeans.

“I thought poets wrote about love and shit.”

“Well, we do, sometimes,” I said. I brushed off the ash.

“Except you write about how life is like a mangy dog.”

I thought maybe I should just get out of the cab here, wherever we were, but the light changed and he stepped on the gas.

“So, life is like a mangy dog,” he said.

“Well, uh –”

“A mangy goddam dog.”

“Um, well, uh –”

“You know what, pal?” he said.

“What?” I said.

“You’re goddam right. Life is like a mangy dog.”

“Well, uh, second thought, maybe we’ll change the title of the book –”

“A mangy goddam dog,” he said. “Ya work all your goddam life. Ya get old. Ya get sick. And then ya croak. It’s a mangy dog.”

“Well, uh – it’s not so bad –”

“Maybe for you it ain’t. Sittin’ in your downtown pad writin’ poems all day, bringin’ home fifty clams a week. Prolly got dames crawlin’ all over ya. Maybe for you life ain’t a mangy dog.”

I felt bad now.

“Life can be –"

Yo, gramps!” he yelled at an old man in a green Hupmobile who had apparently veered too close to the cab. “Learn to fuckin’ drive before I run you off the road!” He glanced back at me over his shoulder. “Excuse my French. What was you sayin’, pal?”

“Oh – just that, you know, life can be, you know, a very beautiful –”

“For who? For goddam who?”

“Well, I don’t know –”

“What about the goddam starvin’ babies in Africa?”

“Oh, well –”

“Don’t they count? Them babies?”

“Um, sure –”

“No,” he said. “You got it right the first time, pal. Life’s like a mangy goddam dog.”

He pulled up at an empty space near a corner.

“Bleecker Street,” he said. “This good enough for ya?”

“Yes,” I said. “Here, how much do I –”

“Your buddy already took care of it, remember?”

“Oh, right,” I said.

“He your boss?”

“Sort of,” I said. “My publisher.”

“Rich guy, huh?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess he’s fairly well-off –”

“Rich guy,” said the driver. “Life ain’t no mangy dog for him.”

“No, I suppose not,” I said.

“What’s your name, pal?”

“Arnold,” I said.

“Arnold what?”

I remembered I wasn’t Arnold any more.

“I mean Porter,” I said. “Porter Walker.”

“Why’dja say Arnold then?”

“Um, my name is Arnold, uh, Porter Walker. Arnold Porter Walker. But I’m just going by Porter Walker for my book.”

“Yeah, Porter Walker is classier. Arnold sounds like, I don’t know, a milkman or somethin'.”

“Well, I’ll see ya around,” I said. I opened the car door.

“Yeah,” said the driver. “I’ll keep an eye out for your book.”

“We might change the title,” I said.

“Yeah, people can’t take the truth,” he said.

I got out of the cab, closed the door.

A mangy dog!” the driver shouted.

I waved. I didn’t know what else to do.

“A mangy goddam dog,” he said again, and then he pulled out into the stream of traffic again.

I looked up at the nearest street sign.

Bleecker Street and MacDougal.

Well, I was in the right neighborhood, anyway, probably.

That was a start.

(Continued here, and, at this rate, for at least twenty-seven more years.)

(Please look to the right hand column of this page for an up-to-the-minute listing of links to all other published chapters of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train To Heaven© “Not just a memoir, but an epic poem, a journey, a way of life, and a source of inspiration for young and old alike.” -- Harold Bloom)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

“Uncle Buddy’s House”, Chapter 39: paragon

Let us rejoin that man-about-Hollywood Buddy Best, just pulling up to a certain overtly rough-hewn house at the tail-end of Venice Beach on a pleasant spring evening in the year 2003...

(Click here to go to our previous episode, or go here to return to the first chapter of Uncle Buddy’s House©. “Apparently the peccadilloes of the denizens of the movie world will never cease to fascinate the denizens of the nether regions of the literary world.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, The Tea Party Monthly.)

He pulled up outside the Mariner’s barn, and before he could beep his horn Deirdre came bounding out, her backpack over her shoulder. She pulled open the passenger door and jumped in.

“Step on it. They’re right behind me and they’ve both got rabid spiders up their areseholes.”

“Put your seat belt on.”

She did, and he pulled out.

“So, how’d it go today otherwise?”

“Oh, please. He is so fucking weird. He keeps trying to talk to me. And he always wants to do stuff.”

“Nothing -- untoward, I hope.”

“No, nothing like that. Just, oh, God, he’s such a bore. Y’know what’s a nice thing about you, Uncle Bud?”

“My driver’s license?”

“You never try to like do things. I mean you just leave me alone.”

Buddy thought about this for half a block.

“I took you to the opera --”

“That was different, I wanted to go to the opera, but you don’t try to teach me how to play backgammon. You don’t invite me to caulk your smelly old fishing boat.”

“Yeah. How’s your mom?”


She put her Discman earphones on.

They were a few blocks from home when she took off the phones and said:

“You smell funny, Uncle Bud.”

“Do I? I’m sorry. I never, uh, took a shower today --”

“I don’t mind. You don’t smell that bad. Did you work out today?”

“No. No, I had a business lunch. I didn’t do much. Made up a new title for our movie.”

“What is it?”

Nikki Palmer.”

Nikki Palmer?”

“Yeah. Nikki with two k’s and an i.”

“Gay. So gay.”

“Well, gay or not, we’re going with it.”

“It’s not all that gay. Have you heard from Cordelia?”

“Uh, yeah, she called today, from Vancouver.”

“Do you miss her?”

“We’re not going out.”

“I didn’t ask you that.”

“Uh, yeah, I miss her a little.”

He was asking me about her. Trying to pump me. But I was cool this time. I told him I didn’t think there was anything going on between you two.”

“Well, fuck him.”

“Yeah, that’s what I say.”

“Hey, did they feed you? Do you want to stop somewhere?”

“Oh, they fed me a big lunch. He made croque-monsieurs.”

Of course he did.

“So you’re not ready for dinner yet?”

“I’m going out for dinner with a friend. I mean if that’s okay.”

“Uh, yeah, I guess so, I mean, as long as you’re in by -- uh, who’s the friend?”

“It’s a guy.”

“Oh. Really? Where’d you meet him?”

“It’s Jeremy. Philip’s friend.”

“Jeremy? What -- who’s -- what’s he look like?”

“He’s got like a shaven head, goatee --”

“That kid who was helping Philip move in --”


“Okay, hold on.”

They were coming up to the house. He parked and cut the ignition, then turned to her.

“How old’s this guy?”


Buddy undid his seatbelt and she undid hers.

“Are you going to give me shit?” she asked.

“Um, I don’t think this is such a good idea, Deirdre.”

“We’re not going to have sex.”

“You better not. Unless you want to send this little fuckwad to jail you better not.”

“What if I like him?”

“He’s too old for you.”

“Uncle Buddy. Hello. Cordelia.”

“Cordelia’s different. She’s over eighteen. You’re not even sixteen.”

“I’m sixteen.”

“You are?”

“Ha. Gotcha.”

“You’re fifteen still, right?”

“Right, Uncle Bud.”

“Okay. Whatever, fifteen, sixteen, you’re underage.”

“It’s not a crime unless we have sex.”

“That’s true.”

“So what’s the big whoop?”

“Deirdre, why do you think this guy wants to go out with you? Just to talk? He’s a guy. Guys go out with girls so they can have sex with them.”

“Like you and Cordelia.”

“Who, again, is over eighteen. And who, again, I am not going out with.”

They both just sat there, looking through the windshield.

“Have you guys already gone out?” he asked.

“Sort of.”

“Does Philip know about this?”


Buddy took off his glasses, put them away. He breathed deeply.

“Listen,” he said, “be honest with me; have you two, uh --”


“You know what I’m trying to say.”

“We haven’t fucked.”

“All right. Good.”

“We made out though. We made out, and --”

“Okay. Stop. That’s all I want to know. All right, listen -- I know I’m no -- paragon.”



“You are definitely no paragon, dude.”

“Right. But --”


“I, uh, I don’t want you to go out with this guy.”

“You’re such a hypocrite, Uncle Buddy. You think I don’t know what a slut you are?”

“I used to be a slut.”


More staring through the windscreen.

“Okay,” said Buddy. “Listen, what kind of a dude fools around with his friend’s teenage stepsister? And keeps it a secret from his friend? What kind of a dickweed is that? And what’s up with the goatee and the bald head? How original is that? Oh. And dig: Jeremy. Do you really want to lose your virginity to some shiny-headed little creep named Jeremy? That’s something you’d have to carry around with you the rest of your fucking life. You don’t want that.”

She didn’t say anything. He didn’t say anything.

Then he said:

“I mean you’re better than that.”

Then he shut up.

If she wanted to get together with this kid she would anyway.

“Uncle Bud.”


“I won’t go out with him.”

“You won’t?”

“No. You’re right. Jeremy is kind of sleazy now that you mention it. And anyway, I owe you one.”

“Are you serious?”

“About owing you one?”

“About not seeing this guy.”


“Well, thanks, now I don’t have to kick his pedophile ass.”

“I wouldn’t want you to have to do that.”

Her backpack was on her lap. She unzipped a pocket and took out her cellphone. She flicked it open and speed-dialed.

“Hi, Jeremy? Listen, I can’t go out tonight. Yeah. Uh, no. No, I don’t think tomorrow’s gonna work either. No. No. Um, how about never? Yeah. No. No, I don’t think it’s gonna work for me. Why? Because I’m too young and you’re too old. And because you’re supposed to be Philip’s friend. No. No. Wait, hey, Jeremy, you know what? Why don’t I just tell Philip about it? Oh, okay. Right. Right. Hey, I’ve got a brilliant idea, Jeremy. Why don’t you just find some bimbo your own age, okay? And while you’re at it why don’t you shave off that lame-o goatee and grow some hair on your fucking skull. Asshole.”

She flicked the phone shut.

“That was fun,” she said. “Okay, now you owe me dinner at my place of choice.”

“Okay,” said Buddy.

She said she’d just as soon go to Mama Maria’s, but first they went into the house to see if Philip or Liz were home. Liz was sitting at the kitchen table with her laptop, and she said she wasn’t hungry. Philip wasn’t home. So Buddy and Deirdre walked down to the restaurant.

As they walked he was thinking he should just let this Cordelia thing dissipate.

As for Marjorie, well, whatever.

It wouldn’t be hard to let the Cordelia thing go. She was up in Vancouver for five more weeks, and he had a lot of work to do. By the time they finished up post on gay Nikki Palmer they would be going right into preproduction on the sequel. Also he would probably be going to Cannes, and maybe some other festivals. That would be fun. Maybe. Then production on the sequel, post-production. Plenty of work to do. Maybe take a nice vacation Christmastime. Then just get old and die --

“What are you thinking about?” said Deirdre.

“Um, I was thinking about what I wanted to eat, actually.”

“I want the meatballs, dude.”

“Meatballs sound good,” said Buddy.

Yeah, let it go.

And yet when Cordelia called again, drunk, that night at 2:38 a.m., and woke him up from a sound sleep, his resolutions from earlier in the evening went right out the window.

“Hi, Buddy, it’s your stalker.”


“You were right, Buddy, weirdo Joe tried to hit on me!”

“No kidding. But I thought you and your friends --”

“He was at the bar. Everybody was at the bar. Canadians, too.”

“That figures.”

“Weirdo Joe tried to hit on me, but he had no luck.”


“There’s another guy on the show who likes me, though.”

“I’m sure there’s plenty of guys on the show who like you.”

“You think so?”

“Unless they’re all gay.”

“There are some gay guys. And they love me.”

“They should love you. You’re lovable.”

“What time is it there?”

“Same time as it is where you are I should think.”

“I woke you up again.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I think I have to get off now.”

“Okay. Are you in bed?”


“Are you undressed?”


“You should drink some water.”

“Water’s too far away.”

“Good night, baby.”

“Good night, baby.”

He lay there for a while with the phone to his ear, listening to nothing.

(Continued here, because that’s the way we roll.)

(Please go to the right hand side of this page to find a possibly accurate listing of links to all other available chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™, vetted and approved by the Committee for Morally Unobjectionable Literature.