Thursday, July 2, 2020

"St. Philip"

“Bleecker and the Bowery, comin’ up, pal.”

“Ah, so soon.”

Philip had been lost in a reverie, looking out the window at the warm sunny day, looking back over his largely misspent life.

“Where ya want me to stop.”

Here he was again, and he’d regret it when it was all over and he was back at the rest home, or at Bellevue or the drunk tank, but that was the future, and this was now, and it was time.

“I said where at, buddy.”


“Where exackly ya want me to let you out.”

“Oh, just let me out at Bob’s Bowery Bar over on the right there.”

“Bob’s Bowery Bar?”


The driver pulled up at Bob’s. Someone was throwing up on the pavement, not in the gutter, but right on the sidewalk.

Philip got out his wallet, took out a ten-dollar bill and handed it over to the driver.

“Keep the change.”

“This is a ten.”

“I know. Keep it.”

“Why such a big tip?”

“Do you really want to know why?”

“That’s why I acksed.”

“Because you didn’t try to engage me in conversation.”

“Wow. Maybe I oughta learn to keep my trap shut more often.”

“Ha ha.”

“Hey, mister, before you get out, you mind I acks you anudder question?”


“Why you getting out here, at Bob’s Bowery Bar?”

“I like this place.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I don’t get a lot of things either.”

“Nicely dressed well spoken gennulman like you. I don’t get it. Ten million bars in this town. Why this one.”

The driver had adjusted his rearview mirror so that he could look at Philip, who paused and thought before answering.

“Well,” he said, not knowing what he was going to say next, but then the man who had been throwing up on the pavement was looking into the passenger window at him.

“Hey, Philip,” said the man. “Long time no see.”

It was the hopeless drunk (well, one of the hopeless drunks) they called Tom the Bomb.

“Oh, hi, Tom,” said Philip.

“Hey, Philip, can ya spare me fifty cent so’s I can get a bottle of Tokay?”

“Come on in the bar with me, I’ll buy you a drink or two.”

“I can’t, pal. Bob flagged me for the rest of the day on accounta I peed myself.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

Philip still had his wallet out. He took out a dollar and handed it to Tom the Bomb.

“Wow, a whole buck! Thanks, Philip, you’re okay in my book, I don’t care what anybody says about ya.”

“Don’t mention it, Tom.”

Tom staggered away, happily.

“Friend of yours,” said the cab driver.

“Sort of,” said Philip.

“So you’re like St. Francis.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“St. Francis of Assisi. He was the patron saint of birds and dumb animals.”


“You’re the patron saint of drunken bums.”

Philip took pause. Was that what he was?

“Wha’d he call ya – Philip?”


“St. Philip. Patron saint of drunken bums.”

“Heh heh. Well, thanks for the ride.”

“You’re welcome.”

Philip opened the door and got out of the cab, closed the door.

“Hey, buddy!” yelled the cab driver.

Philip bent down so that he could see the cab driver’s face.


“All God’s creatures are all God’s creatures.”

“Uh, yes, I suppose you’re right –”

“Even drunken bums.”

“Yes, I guess that’s true –”

“The birds. The squirrels in the park. The bums in the park.”

“Yes, uh –”

“You have a nice day.”

“I’ll try to.”

The driver put the car in gear and pulled out. Philip turned around. He started to take a step, but then he saw the puddle of liquid vomit Tom the Bomb had left on the sidewalk, and he sidestepped just in time.

St. Philip, patron saint of drunks. 

Maybe his life wasn’t entirely wasted after all.

Philip crossed the sidewalk and opened the door to the bar, and inside all was dim and smoky, but he could tell the joint was crowded, alive with laughing and shouting voices.

All God’s creatures.

Philip stepped inside, and the door closed behind him.

{Please go here to read the “adult comix” version, illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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