Thursday, April 7, 2022

“This Must Be Love”


Yes, this was love. It must be. This magical, supernatural feeling! And like the snowflakes swirling all about him in the cold and whipping ice-colored air, the clichés crowded and swarmed and swirled in Addison’s brain. Walking on clouds, swimming through moonlight, dancing among the stars! My heart overflowing. She is my everything. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want to tell the world…

He crossed Lafayette, ignoring a red light, ignoring also the foul imprecations of the cabby who had just barely failed to run him down. Addison was approaching his building, down at the far end of this block of Bleecker, but he realized now that he was far too full of joy to return to his lonely tiny fourth-floor walk-up, far too keyed up even to think of working on his epic novel of the old west, Sixguns to El Paso, although he was sure of one thing, and that was when he did get back to work on it, he must needs introduce the element of love – the one essential ingredient he now knew the work had lacked. He must give his hero Buck Baxter a love interest. Why hadn’t he thought of this before? Addison knew why. It was because he, Addison, until last night, had been ignorant of love, of true love. But it was not too late to introduce the love motif into his book, even if he was already several hundred typewritten pages into the story. What about the young girl, Maisie Mae, bent like Buck himself on vengeance against those who had her kinsmen slain? Or maybe that was too obvious a choice for Buck’s inamorata. What about the lady saloon-keeper at the Penultimate Chance Saloon, Maxine Delarue? What about Lola St. James, the chanteuse at the saloon? Or maybe Miss Bertha, the daughter of the town physician, old Doc Bergman?



“Addison, you’re walking along with your head in the clouds, old buddy!”

It was Smiling Jack, standing here amidst the falling snow on the corner of Bleecker and the Bowery, a leather satchel hanging from a strap across his chest, his hat and his coat dusted with white crystals.

“Oh, hi, Jack. Yes, I suppose I am a trifle distrait today. You see –”

“Where you going with your head up in those snow clouds, pal?”

“Where am I going?”

Addison had not really been aware of where he was going, although he had passed the entrance of his building and the adjoining cobbler’s shop, and his feet seemed to be leading him inexorably around the corner to Bob’s Bowery Bar.

“Oh, I don’t know, Jack,” he said, “maybe just over to Bob’s for a bock or two, because you see –”

“Addison, my friend! You can’t go in there! Didn’t you read my book?”

“Your book?”

“My book I gave you last night. Didn’t you read it? Here, take another one.”

Smiling Jack reached under the flap of his leather bag and brought out a pamphlet with a crude drawing of a drunk-looking chap leaning against a lamp post and holding a bottle. Above the drawing were the words



“Oh, that book,” said Addison, and he reached into the pocket of his trench coat and brought out an identical copy of the pamphlet. “Yes, you see I do in fact still have it.”

“And have you read it, friend?”

“Well, you see, Jack, I’ve had a very eventful evening and day since you gave me your ‘book’, and I’m afraid to say that I haven’t quite found the time to peruse it. But I will, I promise you, in the very near future. Good seeing you, old man.”

Addison slipped the pamphlet back into his pocket and started to turn up the Bowery.


“Yes, Jack?”

“Where are you going?”

“Well, as I said, just up to Bob’s for a bock or two. Would you care to join me?”

“No! No, Addison, you must be strong!”

“I don’t understand.”

“You’re an alcoholic, my friend. Just like me. But no judgement! No judgement you understand!”

“Well, thank goodness for that, ha ha.”

“Addison, my good buddy, I have a proposition. There’s a meeting starting up down at Old St. Pat’s basement in just about, oh –” he pulled up the sleeve of his shabby old worsted coat, and glanced at his wristwatch – “just about exactly seventeen minutes. I was planning on going anyway after handing out a few more books, but, tell you what, friend, why don’t you come along, too.”

“To the meeting?”

“Yes. I think it will do you good.”

“Well, I don’t know, Jack –”

“Addison, pal, listen to me. Are you listening?”

“Sure. How can I help but listen? You’re speaking quite loudly, ha ha.”

“You’ve got a story to tell, Addison. I know you do. You got something to say, old chum. And there is a like-minded group of people who will listen to your story.”

“Do you really think so?” said Addison.

“I know so, my friend,” said Smiling Jack. “Believe me, I know it!”

It was about three-quarters of an hour and two other speakers later later that Addison finally stood up at the central table in the basement of Old St. Pat’s.

“Hello, everybody calls me Addison, and, yes, I suppose I am, not least among my qualities, an alcoholic.”

“Hello, Addison,” said a score of voices.

“But I am not here,” continued Addison, “to regale you good people with tales of drunken depravity and degradation. No, my friends, I am here to talk to you about something sweeter than any wine, more intoxicating than any whiskey, and, yes, more refreshing than that first beaded glass of cold basement-brewed bock of the day. Yes, my friends, I have come to speak of love!”

This announcement was met with silence and blank faces, but Addison didn’t care, and he continued to speak about love, until, a half hour later, Smiling Jack came over and touched him gently on the arm.

{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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