Thursday, March 31, 2022

“Scooter and the Kiss”

“All right, Amberson,” said Bubbles, not stifling a yawn, “listen, pal –”

“Um, may I just interrupt you for only the briefest of moments?” said Addison.

“Now what?”

“Well, in point of fact, Bubbles, my name is not exactly Amberson.”

“What? I thought you said it was Amberson, like, you know, the Magnificent Ambersons.”

“Ha ha, yes, well, I can see how one might make that mistake, but actually the joking name that people call me is ‘Addison’, short for ‘Addison the Wit’, heh heh; you see, they call me that because apparently I’m like – or at least it’s said I try to be like – the character of ‘Addison DeWitt’ in the film All about Eve, and –”

“So I’ve been calling you Amberson all this time but really your name is Addison.”

“Well, no, not precisely –”

“Not precisely what?”

“Addison is not precisely my name, but is, rather, a sort of cognomen I am called by my friends at my ‘local’, Bob’s Bowery Bar –”

“You have friends?”

“Well, I suppose one might call them acquaintances at the very least –”

“So Amberson is just your nickname.”

“Addison actually.”

“But that’s not your real name.”

“No, heh heh, and in reality (and, really, what do we mean by reality?), or in what I choose, perhaps foolishly, to call reality, my actual birth-certificated and, indeed, baptismal Christian name is –”

“So what does your family call you? Paterson?”

“Ha ha, no, they actually have another strange sobriquet or ‘family name’ for me –”

“What is it?”

“Oh, no one but my family call me by that name, it’s really quite silly.”

“What is it.”

“My friends just call me Addison, and to be honest I’ve quite gotten used to it. I think it suits me in a way –”

“What do your family call you. What do all those aunts and great aunts and grandmothers who are always sending you envelopes with double sawbucks in them call you.”

“Well, please don’t laugh –”

“I’m not making any promises.”

“Heh heh.”

“Spit it out.”

“They call me Scooter.”


“Yes, ha ha, but it’s a name strictly reserved to my most immediate blood relations you see; it was given me by my Great Aunt Enid because of the way I was always scooting around underfoot at family gatherings, heh heh. ‘There goes Scooter,’ Great Aunt Enid would say, ‘scooting around underfoot like a scared little rabbit –’


“Yes, ha ha, but as I say –”

“Okay, Scooter – I like that, that’s what I’m gonna call you.”


“Yeah. Scooter.”

“But my real name is –”

“Scooter will do. Now listen, Scooter, what I was starting to say before we got off on this tangent is I want to take a little nap now, so I’m going to ask you to leave.”

“Oh, a nap sounds divine! I wonder if I might take a nap with you?”


“Or I could just lie here and watch you napping.”

“Definitely no.”


She stubbed out her latest Philip Morris Commander, then she turned and looked at him.

“Listen, Scooter, or Amberson, whatever, it’s been fun, and thanks for the brunch and all, but I like to take my naps alone. So be a good boy and run along.”

“Yes, of course, Bubbles, I quite understand, but may I ring you up again?”

Bubbles paused for a moment, studying Addison’s hopeful and adoring face, or at least looking in its direction.
“Yeah, sure,” she said, “you can call me if you want, just, you know, not before noon.”

“Yes, certainly, not before noon, ha ha, how uncivilized to call someone before noon –”

“So get dressed and hit the pike because I need my nap.”

“Perhaps we could see a movie?”


“Perhaps we could take in a film someday?”

“You want to go to the movies with me?”

“Yes, I mean, I see you have quite a few movie magazines on your table, so –”

“You want to take me to the movies.”

“Well, take in the sense of accompany you, and to the film of your choice of course –”

“You mean we would go Dutch treat?”

“Dutch treat?”

“You mean I would have to pay for my own ticket?”

“Oh, well, no, no, of course not, I mean, gee, heh heh, yes, I mean no, I would be glad to buy you a ticket, and in fact I love to go to matinées because the prices are usually so much more reasonable, but, if you would prefer to go in the evening –”

“Look, just give me a call, and if I’m in the mood and there’s something good to see, I’ll let you take me to a movie.”

“Oh, splendid! I wonder if you’ve seen the Audie Murphy film, Ride a Dead Horse, because it’s playing on a double bill right now –”

“I’m not seeing any cowboy movie, so forget it.”

“Oh, yes, absolutely, I mean absolutely not, it doesn’t have to be a western –”

“That's just swell, because it’s not going to be a western. I want to see a good Faith Domergue movie, or maybe something with Marie Windsor or Lizabeth Scott.”


“I like those movies where they get mixed up with some crumb ball like Dan Duryea or Zachary Scott but then Dennis O’Keefe or Eddie O’Brien comes along and bails them out.”

“I shall scour the listings for just such a film.”

“Great, now go, I’m falling asleep with boredom here.”

“At once. But first, I wonder if it would be overstepping bounds if I were to ask you for a kiss.”

“A what?”

“A kiss?”

“You want to kiss me?”

“Very much so. I mean if you wouldn’t mind.”

Bubbles sighed, deeply.

“All right,” she said. “One quick peck. But it’s gonna cost you a buck.”

“A buck?”

“One dollar. Just leave it on the table.”

“A dollar?”

“You heard me. I gotta make a living, you know, and there’s lots of rich old perverts who would pay me a lot more than a dollar to let them kiss me.”

“Well, in that case a dollar does sound reasonable.”

“So go ahead. Kiss me, Scooter, and then get dressed and scoot on out of here.”

Outside the snow was still flurrying in the fading afternoon light, but the sidewalks had been shoveled. Addison turned up his collar and headed east on Bleecker. 

Bubbles had let him kiss her!

The cold flurries swirled all around him, the air was cold and wet, but he didn’t care. He had kissed her, only on the cheek, but he had kissed her, and all was good in the world, or, at least, all was good in Addison’s little world…

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

Thursday, March 24, 2022

“Nobody Cares About Your Theories of the Novel”

“Jesus Christ, Amberson,” said Bubbles, “don’t you ever shut the fuck up?”

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, Bubbles,” said Addison. “Was I waxing too profusely?”

“Listen, buddy, I’m gonna tell you something.”

She was sitting back against her pillows in her comfortable bed, smoking her cigarette in the dim afternoon light, the covers pulled up but not quite over her breasts, which were the most beautiful things Addison had ever seen.

“I wait with bated breath,” said Addison. He wondered if he could touch one or both of those breasts with impunity, but he didn’t want to overstep, even if she had just given him another Baltimore handshake.

Bubbles took a lazy drag of her Philip Morris Commander. She never seemed to hurry. What an admirable quality! She made you wait, and if you wouldn’t wait, well, that was too bad for you.

“Here’s the thing, Amberson,” she said, gazing out the snow-crusted window and at the snow that was flurrying down again on Bleecker Street. “It’s okay not to say anything sometimes. And it’s okay not to try to be witty and clever all the time. Because nobody cares, Amberson. Okay? Like, nobody cares about your theories of the novel.”

“Gee,” said Addison. “I mean, surely someone on earth must care.”

“No, Amberson,” said Bubbles, and now she turned and looked at him. “No one cares. Maybe they pretend to care, but that’s only so that they can get you to pretend to listen to their baloney, which you also don’t care about, but you pretend to care so that they can pretend to care about your baloney. But nobody really cares. And even more important, Amberson, I don’t care.”

Addison was at a loss for words, but he hated a conversational vacuum, and quickly blurted the first thing he could dredge up from the welter of his crowded and chaotic mind.

“You are magnificent, Bubbles. As I believe I’ve intimated before, I consider you to be no less than an existential goddess, an avatar, of, of –”

“There you go again,” she said. “Talking.”

“But I must talk.”

“No, Amberson,” she said. “You don’t have to talk.”

“You mean, you mean –”

“I mean just what I said, Amberson. It’s okay just to shut the hell up now and then.”

It wasn’t easy for him, but Addison shut up, just for a few seconds anyway, and then he said, “I wonder if I might have another of those Philip Morrises?”

She had been gazing out the window again, but now she turned her gaze on him. Her magnificent gaze.

“You do buy your own cigarettes sometimes, don’t you?”

“Why yes, ha ha, of course, it’s just I forgot to buy a pack from the machine at the San Remo, and –”

She picked up the pack from the night table on her side of the bed and dropped it on Addison’s lap.

“Help yourself, big spender.”

Addison helped himself to a cigarette, and Bubbles handed him her own cigarette for the light. He touched her hand as he gave the cigarette back to her, and the touch sent a thrill through his body and through his soul.

“Thank you so much,” he said.

“Don’t mention it, hot shot,” she said.

She was so lovely. And Addison wondered if, instead of going for the Baltimore handshake for three dollars, he should have cast fiscal caution to the winds and gone for a “throw” for ten dollars, or at least the “BJ” for five. Well, maybe next time. He shouldn’t rush things. This was his chance for love, his first chance, perhaps his last chance, and he must not muff it. He wanted to speak, to tell Bubbles everything that was rioting inside his brain, but he forced himself to hold his tongue, at least for as long as he could…

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

Thursday, March 17, 2022

“For a Good Time Call Bubbles”

Addison deposited his nickel in the hallway phone outside his tiny fourth floor walk-up, dialed the number and waited. On the wall around the phone were scrawled various telephone numbers and names and cryptic admonitions, such as “for a good time call trixie”. After ten rings came a click – and her voice, that inimitable voice:

“Who the fuck is this and why are you waking me up.”

“Oh, hello, Bubbles! It is I.”

“Who is I?”

“I am he whom men, and, yes, women, call ‘Addison’ – not, as I think I mentioned last night, that that is either my actual Christian or family name, but, alas, for good or ill, or all that’s in between, it is the shall we say nom de guerre by which I am known to nearly all mankind but for my blood relations, among which latter cohort my pet sobriquet is – embarrassingly enough –”

“Just shut up a minute. Who is this again?”



“From last night.”

“Last night?”

“Yes, we met at the San Remo Café, remember?”

Addison felt a trickle of cold sweat oozing down his back. Had he dreamt it all?

“Oh,” she said, after half a minute’s agonizing pause. “You.”

“Yes, dear Bubbles, ‘tis I!”

“What the hell are you doing calling me so early? What time is it, anyway?”

“It’s half past noon, on the dot, or at least it was when I dialed your number. You see you asked me not to call you before noon, and so I thought it might be wise to give you an extra thirty minutes, because, because –”

“Because why.”

“You said last night you needed your good ten hours at least. Your beauty sleep –”

“And just why are you calling me and waking me up out of a sound sleep?”

“Well, it just so happened that the postman brought me an envelope today, and in that envelope was a Hallmark birthday card and, better yet, a twenty-dollar bill, from my beloved old Aunt Edna.”

“Your who?”

“My Aunt Edna. You see she is quite devoted to me, God knows why, ha ha, but she has the most charming habit of sending me birthday cards two and sometimes three times a year, and always with a twenty dollar bill, well, sometimes only ten, but who am I to complain?”

“It’s your birthday?”

“Oh, no, my birthday is not until October, but you see my Aunt Edna, actually great aunt if we’re being precise, but to the point she is ninety-one and has difficulty remembering birthdays, and so –”

“So your great aunt sent you twenty bucks for your birthday even though your birthday is not till October.”

“What was that funny sound?”

“I just lit a cigarette. If I’m going to listen to your life story, Amberson, I’m gonna have to have a Philip Morris, I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, not at all! But by the way, it’s Addison, not Amberson, ha ha.”

“Okay, whatever, Magnificent Amberson, now what did you wake me up for?”

“Well, I wondered, since I’m now rolling in funds, heh heh, if perhaps you would like to join me for a spot of lunch.”

“A spot of lunch? I’m still in bed, buddy.”

“Call it brunch then.”


“Yes, that ever so civilized amalgam of the first two meals of the day, but with more of an emphasis on lingering at the table, while chatting of this and that, of world affairs, of the arts, of hopes, dreams, even schemes –”

“Amberson, I’ve got two questions for you. First, are you out of your mind, and, second, are you sure you’re not a raging fairy?”

“Ha ha, my dear lady, surely our little encounter last night answered your second question.”


“The, uh, I think you so cleverly called it a Baltimore handshake.”

“Oh, right, it’s all coming back to me now. Okay, maybe you’re not a fairy, although you sure talk like one, but what about my first question. Are you some kind of a nut?”

“Define ‘nut’.”

“It’s a yes or no question, Amberson. Are you out of your mind.”

“Yes,” said Addison.

“Okay, good to know, and goodbye, and don’t call me again.”

“I am out of my mind over you, Bubbles.”

Addison felt a fresh trickle of cold sweat oozing down his spine.

“Bubbles,” he said. “Are you still there? I hope I didn’t speak out of turn. But you see I really am extremely fond of you.”

Silence, except for the faint and possibly imagined gentle sound of exhaled Philip Morris smoke.

“You’re fond of me,” she said at last.

“Very much so,” said Addison.

Another pause, and was that the sound of a Philip Morris Commander ash being tapped into an ashtray?

“You remember where the San Remo is?” she said into the silence.

“Oh, vividly,” said Addison.

“I’ll meet you there in an hour. They have a good lunch there. You like Italian food?”

“I adore Italian cuisine.”

“Swell. I’ll meet you there in an hour.”

“I’ll get there early and make sure we have a good table.”

“Whatever. I’ll be there in an hour.”


“If I’m a little late, wait for me.”

“I shall wait until the cows come home!”

“You won’t have to wait that long. Later, Amberson.”

She hung up, the dial tone came on, and Addison returned the receiver to the hook.

An hour!

One hour to ecstasy. How would he ever fill the hour? He decided to go across the street to Ma’s Diner. He would have a cup or two of Ma’s chicory coffee, and perhaps he would meet someone he knew, or make the acquaintance of someone he didn’t know. He would converse with this person, and then, glancing at his watch, he would say, “Oh, please excuse me, but I really must run. I have a brunch date, you see, with a delightful young lady.”

And it would be true. He actually had a brunch date with a delightful young lady, and this world, which had seemed rather frightful all his previous life up until last night, this world was now full of possibilities for joy.  

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


Thursday, March 10, 2022

“A Secret Memory”

Someone was knocking on Araminta’s door. She had been dreaming, of doughnuts. She was a little girl and she was looking up at her grandmother who was ordering the doughnuts at a glass counter. And then the rapping came, and the warm smell of doughnuts and hot cocoa.

The rapping halted and then came a voice: 

“Araminta? Are you awake?”

It sounded like Gerry Goldsmith.

“I’ve brought you doughnuts and hot cocoa.”

Araminta cleared her throat and then said:


During one of her trips to the bathroom earlier she had gotten out of her clothes and thrown them on the floor, and then gotten back in bed. Now she sighed, deeply, pushed aside the covers and brought her legs over the side of the bed. Her kimono was draped over the bed’s brass foot rail. Without getting up, she leaned to her side and grabbed the robe, and then without getting up she pulled the kimono on.  

“Are you all right, Araminta?” came Gerry’s voice again.

“Wait,” she said again.

Why was everybody so impatient all the time?

It was only two minutes later when she opened the door.

“Don’t look at me,” she said.

Gerry obediently looked away, and held out two brown paper bags.

“I have brought you doughnuts and hot cocoa. The cocoa is still hot and the doughnuts are warm.”

The smell of the doughnuts and hot cocoa, and the warmth.

“You can look at me, Gerry,” she said. “Come inside.”

They sat at her little table in her little kitchenette. The doughnuts had been eaten, the two large Dixie cups of hot cocoa had been drunk, and Gerry had rolled two Bull Durhams, which he now lighted with a paper match. Araminta picked up the matchbook and read the cursive words

The St Crispian Hotel
where the service is swell!

and then she laid the matchbook down.

“What time is it?”

Gerry looked at his old Hamilton.

“Almost half past two.”

“Good God! Is it still snowing?”

“Flurrying still.”

“And yet you went out and got me doughnuts and hot cocoa.”

“I was already out. I was hungry, and had a quite satisfying brunch at Ma’s.”

“What did you have?”

“A double stack of buttermilk pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup and washed down with copious lashings of Ma’s chicory coffee.”

“You really know how to live, Gerry.”

At some point since Gerry had put her to bed last night Araminta had washed her face, and this was the first time he had ever seen her without lipstick and makeup. She looked younger. Her hair was disordered, but somehow beautifully so. Her neck and collarbone were bare and white. The kimono’s colors were bright and swirling.

“Well,” he said, “I suppose I should be toddling along now.”

“Where are you going?”

“Just up to my place.”

“To work on your book?”

“Yes. Maybe I can squeeze out a sentence.”

“Oh good.”

“Maybe it won’t be a bad sentence.”

“I’m sure it won’t be.”

“I’m not so sure, but I’ll try to squeeze out a sentence anyway.”

“It sounds as if you’re speaking of going to the bathroom.”

“It’s a not dissimilar process.”

“Did we do anything last night?”


“You can tell me. I won’t be angry.”

“We did nothing but talk. And drink. And eat. And talk.”

“And drink.”

“And drink.”

“And you put me to bed?”

“I successfully got you into your bed, yes.”

“I hope – I hope I didn’t get fresh with you, Gerry.”

“Not at all.”

“Did you get fresh with me?”

“Not at all.”

“I want to thank you for that.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Terry came knocking at my door this morning.”

“Oh. Terry.”

“I made him go away. I had drunk far too much last night to deal with him. I think he was miffed.”

“He’ll get over it.”

“I suppose he will. Should I tell him I got drunk with you?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“But you’re a philosopher. You’re supposed to know things.”

“I am a philosopher who doesn’t know things.” 

She turned and gazed toward the window, which was coated with snow, but some soft light came through. 

“I want to go back to bed,” she said.

“That sounds like a good idea.”

“I can’t drink like that every night.”

“No one should drink like that every night. Even me.”

“But I wouldn’t not have done it, Gerry.”

“Nor I.”

“I wish I could remember what happened after we left that Kettle of Fish place.”

“Nothing much. I found us a cab, the cab took us home, I got you upstairs and into your bed.”

“So I didn’t miss much.”

“No. Not really.”

Araminta had kissed him in the cab, and said that she loved him, but Gerry wasn’t going to tell her any of that. He would keep that for himself.

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

Thursday, March 3, 2022

“Bachelors of the Bowery”

The snow had not stopped, and so Gerry managed to find them a cab. He had gone way over his budget this night, but what did it matter? He had not had an evening like this since – since when? Since never. He had never had an evening like this. It was as if his whole life had been leading up to this evening…

When the cab pulled up to their building Araminta was asleep, her head on his shoulder.

Gerry paid the driver, and then he pulled Araminta out of the car. The snow fell all around them, and he held her around the waist with one arm, holding his umbrella and Araminta’s purse in his free hand.

“Gerry,” said Araminta, looking up at him, “mon cher Gérard!

And then she laid her forehead on his chest, and he felt her body slump.

It took Gerry three minutes to get her up the steps, another two minutes to get the front door open while trying to keep Araminta upright, another two minutes to drag her to the foot of the stairway.

Now came the hard part. Araminta’s flat was only on the second floor, but the question was, could Gerry get her up there without incurring a heart attack?

He didn’t try to carry her, but he pulled her and lifted her, step by step, taking frequent rests, and at last, some fifteen minutes later, he dragged her to her door. He tried the doorknob, and, yes, the door was locked. He allowed her body to slide down the wall, then he opened her purse, and, amidst a profusion of strange objects, he found a rabbit’s foot with a couple of keys attached to it. One of the keys fit the door lock, and he opened it.

He put the keys back into her purse, hooked the strap of the purse and the handle of his umbrella over his arm, then lifted Araminta by her shoulders and dragged her into her flat. Fortunately she had left the lights on. He got her to her bed, unbuttoned her coat and pulled it off her, and her beret. He hung the coat and beret up on her clothes tree, then went back and pulled her legs up onto the bed.

He didn’t dare undress her. He covered her with a sheet and a blanket, and then he stood there, sweating, and breathing heavily. Yes, it would be very embarrassing to have a heart attack right now.

Araminta lay on her side, with her hands under her cheek.

Gerry left her purse on her night table. He got his umbrella, went to the door and turned the little switch on the lock so that the door would lock behind him. He was about to leave when he remembered the lights, so he went back and switched them all off, then he went out into the hall and closed the door behind him, turning the knob to make sure the door was locked. 

And now what? Up to his own tiny apartment on the sixth floor?

He looked at his old Hamilton wristwatch, Great-Aunt Edna’s Andover graduation present: good God, was it really this early? How had so much happened in such a short span of time? He felt he had lived more in the past half-dozen hours than he had lived his entire previous life. Was this proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity? At any rate, Gerry might not be young, but, yes, the night was still young, or at least it was by his standards. He wasn’t the least bit sleepy, and he still had a few bucks in his wallet, ergo, he felt the call of Bob’s Bowery Bar, just around the corner. Why not go around and have a bock or two, have a bit of a chat with whoever was there, or maybe just sit quietly and ponder the strange and wonderful events of these past hours?

Gerry went down the stairs and out the door. The snow still fell, unrelentingly, and it was beautiful, turning this impoverished quarter of the city into something beautiful, something even magical, something – dare he say it? Something holy.

He opened his umbrella and went down the steps, and then he heard a voice, muffled by the falling snow.

“Gerry! I say, Gerry, old man!”

Gerry turned to his right. Could it be? Of course it could, and it was.

Addison called again, approaching through the snow under his own umbrella.

“I say, Gerry, old boy, wait up!”

Gerry waited up, as Addison drew closer. Normally Gerry would sigh whenever he encountered Addison, but now, strangely, he didn’t mind. He didn’t even mind that undoubtedly Addison would have no money, and Gerry would have to stand him to drinks.

And then Addison was there, his umbrella white with snow.

“Hey, old chap, quo vadis?” he said, as if he didn’t know.

“Just thought I’d pop round to Bob’s for a bock,” said Gerry. “Would you like to come?”

“I’m afraid I spent all my filthy lucre at that San Remo Café place,” said Addison.

“Then please allow me to treat you,” said Gerry.

“Gee, thanks, Gerry,” said Addison.

“Don’t mention it,” said Gerry.

And off the two gentlemen headed through the falling snow. Each of them, in his own way, had just spent the richest evening of his life, and the night was not yet over.

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