Thursday, May 20, 2021


 “Some days it’s like walking along the edge of a cliff,” said Edna, out of nowhere.

“Yeah,” said Philip, after only a slight pause. “I know what you mean.”

They were lying in bed in Edna’s new apartment. It was a Sunday morning in May and her second-floor windows were wide open onto the Bowery.

“It’s like there’s all this empty space out there, and all you have to do is jump off,” she said.

“Or fall off,” said Philip.

“Or get pushed off,” said Edna.

“Uh-huh,” said Philip.

“But we’re safe in here,” she said.

“Relatively,” said Philip.

She turned and faced him, with her her chin on her hand.

“Do you miss it?”

“The booze?”

“The boozing.”

Philip paused before answering.

“Well, yeah,” he said.

“What do you miss about it?”

“I think I miss the oblivion.”

“The oblivion.”

“Yeah. I would be going along, going to the office every day, living a relatively normal life, and then I would start to miss the oblivion.”

“The whoop-de-doo.”

“The call of the wild.”

“The edge of the cliff,” she said.

“Yeah. All of a sudden it would be time to step off the cliff.”

They were both silent for a minute. They were thinking about the cliff.

“Do you think we’ll ever jump off the cliff again?”

“Who knows?” said Philip.

She lay back on her pillow. The sounds of the street came through the windows. They were both reformed drunks, and there were probably two dozen bars within a two block radius of this building.

“Maybe we’d both be better off living in the country,” said Edna.

“Maybe,” said Philip. “But I like it here.”

“Me too,” said Edna.

“Samuel Johnson said that when a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life. I think I kind of feel that way about this town.”

“I’ll tell you one thing,” she said, “it took me about one month to get tired of the suburbs.”

“Do you think that’s why you started drinking?”

“It was one way to forget I was in the suburbs.”

Again they lay silent. The Third Avenue El came roaring by above the windows, rumbling down toward the Houston Street stop.

“Do you want to take a walk?” said Philip.

“Along the edge of the cliff?”

“Not too close to the edge. And maybe we can stop for brunch somewhere.”

“Hold the Bloody Marys?”

“Yeah, maybe hold the Bloody Marys,” said Philip.

She turned over on top of him and looked down into this face.

“I like not being hungover,” she said.

“Yeah, it’s pretty nice,” said Philip.

They made love one more time, and later they went for a long walk through the Village, then came back and had pancakes and sausages at Ma’s Diner.

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

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