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…}

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