Thursday, January 6, 2022

“A Theory About Faulkner”

 “And now,” said Addison, “if you two good people will excuse me, I must visit the little boys’ room. Please save my place.”

Araminta and Gerry both waited until Addison had gone off into the crowd, and then they looked at each other.

“I’m sorry about this, Araminta,” said Gerry.

“Yes, he is a bit much, isn’t he?” she said.

“I want to escape, but I know if we ditch him he’ll be crushed.”

“Yes, and we would never hear the end of it.”

“There’s never an end to anything with Addison. He just goes on and on.”

“He’ll bury the both of us,” said Araminta.

“What should we do? We’re never going to get rid of him now.”

Araminta paused for just a moment, gazing toward all the bottles of various colorful liquors on the shelves behind the bar, and then she turned to Gerry.

“Leave it to me,” she said.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’ll handle it.”

“Please don’t hurt his feelings. I know I shouldn’t care, and yet I do. It would be different if he didn’t consider me his best friend. His only friend.”

“I shall be diplomatic,” said Araminta. “Now here’s the plan. When Addison gets back, I want you to get up and go to the men’s room yourself.”

“Okay. I guess I could go.”

“Just go, whether you have to go or not.”

“I think I do have to go.”

“All the better. Now drink your beer.”

Drinking his beer was what Gerry was doing anyway, and so he continued to do so.

What was Araminta’s plan? Gerry had no idea. He may have been a philosopher, but the workings of women’s brains were a complete mystery to him.

The place was packed now, the laughter and the shouting and the jukebox music was a world in itself surging and pulsing all around the little world of his consciousness and the slightly less little world which included Araminta sitting to his left. They were both smoking Bull Durhams which Gerry didn’t even remember rolling, although he now remembered rolling one for Addison, who so rarely had his own cigarettes, and who, even if he did have his own cigarettes seemed always to prefer smoking those of other people.

As he sat there drinking his Rheingold and smoking his cigarette, Gerry thought a few times of saying something else to Araminta, but each time he stopped himself, and he didn’t really know why, except that maybe he felt he should leave her to concentrate her thoughts on whatever she was planning on doing.

And then Addison was back.

“I feel so much better,” he said. “Where was I? Oh, yes. Faulkner. Let me tell you two my theory about Faulkner.”

“Before you start,” said Araminta, “where’s the men’s room?”

“What?” said Addison. “Why would you want to know where the men’s room is?”

“Because Gerard has to go. Right, Gerard?”

“Oh, right,” said Gerry.

“It’s just in the back there,” said Addison. “Where men’s rooms always are. It has a sign saying Gentlemen, but I don’t think they’ll mind if you use it, Gerry.”

“Ha ha.”

“Just kidding. But hurry back, because I want to get this Faulkner business off my chest.”

“I’ll just be a jiffy,” said Gerry, and he got up.

“I’ll keep your seat warm,” said Addison.

Now it was Gerry’s turn to go off into the crowd.

“Listen, Addison,” said Araminta, “Gerard and I have to go when he gets back from the men’s room.”

“Oh, but I told you, that Maugham movie is a crashing bore –”

“We’re not going to a movie. We were never going to go to a movie.”

“You weren’t?”

“No. When we said we were going to a movie we were speaking euphemistically.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When we said we were going to a movie what we really meant was that we wanted to go back to my place.”

“Go back to your place. Why?”

“Can’t you guess?”

Addison took an honest moment, guessing, and then he said quite abruptly, “Oh!”

“Yes,” said Araminta.

“You mean you want to, as it were –”

“Yes. We want to make love.”

“I see. But I did so want to tell you my theory about Faulkner –”

“That’s going to have to wait until the next time, Addison.”

“Oh. Okay. I understand.”

“Do you?”

“Yes,” he said. “I think I do. Yes. You two should obey the shall we say exigencies of the biological imperative, I suppose.”

“I’m glad you understand, Addison.”

Less than five minutes later Gerry and Araminta were out on the sidewalk, under Gerry’s umbrella, as the thick snow fell all about them white and gently in the light of the corner street lamp.

“What ever did you say to him, Araminta?”

“I dealt with him.”

“I hope you didn’t hurt his feelings.”

“Oh, no. Now where should we go?”

“Another bar?”

“Sure, but let’s get something to eat.”

“Yes, I could eat. In fact I think I better had eat something.”

“Which way?”

“I don’t think it matters too much,” said Gerry.

“This way, then,” said Araminta, pointing up MacDougal Street, and she slipped her arm in Gerry’s.

Back inside the San Remo, Addison sat on the stool vacated by Gerry, Araminta’s words still ringing in the caverns of his brain.

What did a beautiful young woman like Araminta see in a guy like Gerry? It was a mystery. Women were a mystery.

But then if Gerry could attract a good-looking woman like Araminta, maybe there was hope for Addison.

The seat Araminta had been sitting in was now empty. Maybe a woman would sit in it. Maybe she would be attractive. Maybe – who knew? – just maybe she would want to hear his theory about Faulkner…

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

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