Thursday, November 25, 2021

“The Divine Afflatus”

“So, are you still feeling it, Gerry?”

“What’s that, Araminta?”

“You know –”

“The divine afflatus?”


“Divine afflatus.”

“That sounds like a fart.”

“Ha ha, no, divine afflatus is the, you know, the divine, uh, how shall I put it –”

“I meant are you still feeling the muggles.”

“The muggles?”

“The weed we smoked back in my pad.”

Suddenly it all came back to him. It had only been, what, less than an hour ago? And yet it seemed so long ago…

“I think you’re still feeling it,” said Araminta.

“Yes, to some extent,” said Gerry.

“Excuse me,” said a man’s voice, yet another man’s voice. This was somebody standing just behind and between Gerry and Araminta, and they both turned to look at the speaker, who was a smiling, curly-haired young fellow wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a lumberjack’s shirt. “I don’t mean to intrude, but my friends and I are fascinated.”

“By what?” said Araminta.

“By you two,” said the fellow.

“And why is that?” asked Araminta.

“Because you both emanate a strange – I want to say numinous – aura. My name is Allen, by the way. I’m a poet. Those are my friends over there.” He pointed to a table near the entrance where three other fellows sat, and the three guys each gave a little wave of the hand. “They’re all writers and poets also. And something tells me that you two are also members of our sacred sodality.”

“You pegged us, pal,” said Gerry. “Was it my shabby tweed suit and the lady’s beret?”

“In part, yes,” said the young man, “but I think mostly it was the aura.”

“Excuse me, Allen is it?” said Araminta. “Now please don’t take this the wrong way, but you wouldn’t be insane, would you?”

“Well, I have to admit you bring up a delicate topic. Oh, by the way, may I know your names?”

“Araminta,” said Araminta, “and this distinguished hunk of manhood is called Gerry.”

“Very pleased to meet you,” said the guy called Allen. “Hey, would you two like to join our table?”

“But you still haven’t answered my question as to whether you are insane,” said Araminta.

“Well, it’s true I’ve done some time at a psychiatric institute –”

“Which one?” said Araminta.

“Columbia Presbyterian Hospital?”

“Oh, okay, go on.”

“You’ve heard of it?”

“Yes, I hear it’s top-notch.”

“Well, anyway, it’s true I spent seven months there, but to answer your question, I don’t think I’m insane at present.”

“But,” said Araminta, “if you were insane you might not know it.”

“This is true,” said the young man named Allen. “But still, my friends and I would so like you to join us. The both of you.”

With the last sentence he smiled at Gerry.

“But, Allen,” said Araminta, “Gerry and I are having a tête-à-tête.”

“Yes, of course,” said Allen. “I see.”

“So please don’t be offended.”

“Oh, of course not.”

“Maybe later,” said Araminta.

“Oh, that would be swell.”

“What are your friends’ names?”

“Well, the guy wearing the denim work shirt is Jack, the thin fellow in the grey suit with the glasses is Bill, and the smaller guy in the sweatshirt is Gregory.”

“You’ve got a regular little crew there,” said Araminta.

“Yes, that we are. We’ve been through thick and thin together. Weed busts, cross-country automobile trips, even a foray or two into ancient Mexico. You see, we like to think of each other as a like-minded band of angelheaded hipsters, digging the whole mad universe and trying our best to lay it all down in words that sing to the swinging stars just the way Bird or Diz do with their respective axes.”

“So you’ve got your own little movement going on there!” said Araminta.

“Yes, we like to think so.”

“Do you have a name for it?”

“You know, Araminta, we were just discussing that. Bill suggested we call ourselves the Moot Maharajahs.”

“Ha ha.”

“Jack thought maybe we should call ourselves the Pooh Bear Boys.”

“Not bad.”

“Gregory proposed the Katzenjammer Daddies.”

“And what do you propose, Allen?”

“I was thinking the Beatific Generation.”


“You don’t like it?”

“I’ll give you a name,” said Araminta.

“Oh, please do.”

Araminta looked at Allen, and then over to the table of his friends. All three of the fellows were looking over at Araminta and Gerry and Allen, as if expectantly.

“I dub you the Beat Generation,” said Araminta.

“Wow,” said Allen. “The Beat Generation.”

“Do you like it?”

“I love it. The Beat Generation. I’m gonna go tell the guys right now. Wow. Thank you so much, Araminta.”

“You’re welcome, Allen.”

“Very pleased to have met you. And, seriously, if you and Gerry would like to come over and join us we would love it.”

“We’ll see.”

“We’ve got some weed by the way, and we could take turns going outside and sharing reefers under umbrellas in the mystic streetlight rain on the corner.”

“Well, that’s certainly a selling point,” said Araminta.

Allen shook hands with both Araminta and Gerry and went back to his friends.

“That was weird,” said Araminta.

“I liked him,” said Gerry, but still he was glad to have Araminta to himself for the time being, in their own little world within the world of this bar, within that greater world outside and all the other infinite worlds beyond that one.

{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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