Thursday, September 17, 2020

"The Worst Guy in the World"

 “I got a little class,” said Tom the Bomb. “Not a lot of class, but a little class.”

“Sure,” said Wine.

Tom was buying, on account of he had worked this week, down at the Fulton Fish Market, and so Wine was agreeing with everything Tom the Bomb said.

“How’s your wine, Wine?” said Tom, even though he could see that Wine’s glass was empty. “You want another Tokay?”

Wine had never turned down a drink in his life yet and he wasn’t about to start now.

“Thanks, Tom, sure, I appreciate it.”

“Yo, Bob,” yelled Tom, “another Tokay for my father here, and I’ll take another bock.”

Bob was down at the other end of the bar, talking to the Brain, but he at least looked up, even if he didn’t say anything.

“When you get time, Bob,” yelled Tom. “No hurry.”

Bob turned back to the Brain. He didn’t hurry for anybody.

“Thanks, Tom,” said Wine again.

“Don’t mention it,” said Tom. “When I’m flush my friends are flush. And that means you, ya little wino.”

“Heh heh.”

“A little class,” said Tom. “Not a lot of class, but a little class.”

“A little class is good, Tom,” said Wine.

“That’s what I say,” said Tom. “A little class. Just a little. That’s all.”

“You’re right, Tom.”

“I know I’m right. And you know why I know I’m right?”

“I don’t know, Tom.”

“You want to know why I know I’m right?”


“I’ll tell ya, buddy. I’ll tell ya how I know. It’s because I got a little class. And that’s how I know.”

Bob was there, and he refilled Wine’s glass from the gallon jug of Tokay, which, like his bock beer, he brewed down in the basement of the bar.

“Thanks, Bob,” said Wine.

“Take it out of my pile there, Bob,” said Tom, tapping his little wet pile of dollar bills and loose change. “And another bock for me, too.”

“Yeah, I heard you the first time,” said Bob.

“Heh heh,” said Tom.

Bob took Tom’s glass down to the bock tap.

“I love that guy,” said Tom to Wine, in a low voice.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy,” said Wine.

“What was I sayin’?” said Tom.

“That you got a little class. And a little class is good. And that you know that ‘cause you got a little class.”

“Yeah,” said Tom. “A little class. Not a lot of class. But a little.”

“And a little class is good, Tom.”

“Damn straight it’s good,” said Tom.

Friday, and the joint was filling up. What did Tom care? He had enough money to get his load on, and enough to get Wine loaded too. If he wasn’t too hungover tomorrow, maybe he’d show up for work at the Market, and if he didn’t feel like getting out of bed, he wouldn’t. That was tomorrow, and now was now.

Bob laid the fresh glass of bock down and took the exact change for the bock and the Tokay and went away.

“Here’s to you, pal,” said Tom to Wine.

The two drunks touched their glasses and drank.

Tom sighed.

“I ain’t the worst guy in the world,” he said.

“No,” said Wine.

“Not the worst,” said Tom.

“Not at all,” said Wine.

“I ain’t the worst guy in the world.”

Then Tom didn’t say anything for a while.

Wine didn’t mind.

{Kindly go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, illustrated by the one-and-only Rhoda Penmarq…}

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