Thursday, November 11, 2021

“The Ballad of Dickie Throckmorton”

 “It's autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love,” sang the woman on the jukebox…

“And another trick, Araminta, is knowing what not to write,” said Gerry, abruptly returning the conversation back to a previous thread, and, anyway, he would much rather talk about writing than about love and romance. After all, as little as he knew about writing, it was still a hell of a lot more than the absolutely nothing he knew of the carnal and emotional relations between men and women. “That is to say, if you don’t write all the words that you shouldn’t write then you just might be left with a few words that are perhaps at least somewhat worthwhile, or –”

“Gerry,” said someone behind Gerry. “Gerry Goldsmith?”

Now who could it be? Gerry turned to see.

It was a big fat man, with a salt-and-pepper beard, another one, that is to say another big man with a beard, and this one was wearing one of those striped Breton fisherman’s jerseys, and he had the beret to go with it. Like Gerry he was holding a bottle of Rheingold in one hand, and in the other hand he had a corncob pipe.

“Hello?” said Gerry. 

“Don’t you know me, Gerry?”

“Um, uh –”

“Oh, sure I’ve put on a couple of pounds, or maybe it’s the beard? But it’s me, Gerry, don’t you remember me?”

“Uh,” said Gerry.

“It’s me, Dickie Throckmorton!”

Oh no, of all people…

“Dickie Throckmorton!” repeated fat, middle-aged, bearded Dickie Throckmorton. He turned and leered at Araminta.

“And this must be your charming daughter?”

“You’re the second person who’s made that supposition since we’ve been sitting here,” said Araminta, “and, no – Mr. Throckmorton is it?”

“Yes, but please call me Dickie.”

“No, ‘Dickie’,” said Araminta, “Gerard and I are not father and daughter. We are, in fact, what the Italians call innamorati.”

“Hey, does that mean what I think it means?”

“Actually,” said Gerry, “Miss Sauvage and I are merely, or should I say not merely, but –”

“Hey, say no more, fella, and God bless you both. I’m so very pleased to meet, you – Miss Savage is it?”

“Sauvage, but since you seem to be old buddies with Gerard, you may call me Araminta, Dicky.”

“Araminda, so very pleased to meet you. D’ya know, Gerry and I were on the Harvard rowing team together, and, get this, the tennis team too, and the golf team!”

“Gee, you fellows were awfully athletic, weren’t you?”

“Sport is all we cared about, and of course drinking, ha ha, right, Gerry?”

“Yes,” said Gerry.

“Play all day and drink all night, that was our motto. Right, Gerry?”

“Heh heh,” said Gerry.

“God, the times we had!”

He addressed Araminta again.

“The only thing was, Gerry was a reader. Always reading! Smart guy.” He turned his gaze back to Gerry. “What you doing these days, Gerry?”

“Well, I’m working on a volume of philosophical observations –”

“Me, I chucked it all, pal. Sold my interest in the company to my brothers, moved to the Village and took up abstract painting!”

“Well, that’s great, uh, Dickie –”

“Best decision I ever made! Say, would you like to come over to my studio and see my work? I’m right down the street on MacDougal.”

“Well, uh –”

“Okay, maybe not right now, on account of I can see you two are having a ‘tête-à-tête’, heh heh –”

“Trying to,” interposed Araminta.

“– but maybe some other time,” barreled on Dickie. “Any time! So, Annabella, what do you do? I mean, like, besides being beautiful. I mean, what do you do. If anything.”

“I am a poet,” said Araminta, “and I am also writing a novel –”

“No kidding, what’s your novel about?”

“A young woman’s coming of age in the big city.”

“Sounds great,” said Dickie. “You got a title yet?”

“My new working title is The Boogie Woogie Man Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out.”

“Ha ha, love it. Here, hold my beer, Gerry.”

Dickie handed Gerry his bottle of Rheingold, stuck his corncob pipe in his teeth, and took out his wallet. Despite Dickie’s bohemian attire, Gerry noticed that the wallet was a good-looking one, probably a Mark Cross if he knew Dickie Throckmorton, one of the richest guys in the old Harvard crowd, as well as the most boring.

Dickie took out a couple of calling cards and gave one each to Gerry and Araminta.

“My phone number’s on there, but if I’m not at home, I’ll probably be here, and if I’m not here I’m probably up the block at the Kettle of Fish. Or maybe at Chumley’s or the White Horse. Or the Minetta. Or if I’m not in one of those places you can probably find me at the Cedar.”

He put the wallet away and took his beer back from Gerry.

Gerry Goldsmith,” he said. He looked at Araminta. “Wow. Really nice meeting you, Angelina. But look, and I mean this for both of you, come by and see my paintings. Any time.”

“Sure, Dickie,” said Gerry.

“And Arabella. Wow. Beautiful. Okay. Great talking to you two.” But he didn’t go quite yet. “The times we had, Gerry,” he said. “Can’t wait to talk them all over with you.”

And then he staggered off.

“Jesus Christ,” said Araminta.

“I know,” said Gerry. He was looking at the calling card Dickie had given him.

“Give me that card, Gerry.”

Gerry handed her the card, and Araminta ripped both cards up into tiny pieces, dropping them fluttering down into the spit gutter below their feet.

{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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