Thursday, June 30, 2022

“The Sister of Mercy”

“The only way to be sure not to say something stupid is to say nothing. Therefore I shall leave the following page of this work entirely blank, thus ensuring that at least one page of it shall not be utter nonsense.”

Gerry Goldsmith stared at the words he had just typed. Or had he just typed them? How long had he been sitting here staring at this page? How long had it been since he had come up here from Araminta’s flat down on the second floor?

He turned and looked out the window. It was twilight, and the streetlights had come on. Or, if it was morning, then the lights had already been on. Snow fell past and through the girders of the Third Avenue El, something like snow, or was it sleet, or something other than sleet or snow? What time was it? He looked at his watch, his faithful old Hamilton, thank you, Great Aunt Edna, given to him upon his graduation from Andover, lo those many years ago, when he was young and full of – what? Beans? Life? Youth? What was he full of now, if anything? Six-thirty-two said the hands of the watch, the second hand ticking round towards six-thirty-three. Yes, fine, but was it morning or evening? Why didn’t he know whether it was morning or evening? Was it the marijuana he had smoked earlier with Araminta? No, no, it wasn’t that…

Was he dying? Or was he dreaming? Was he going mad? He pushed himself up from his little writing table and stood, swaying slightly back and forth. Why did his feet feel so far away?

His body carried him the few feet to his bed, his narrow bed, and he got into it. He was still wearing his suit and tie, his shoes. It didn’t matter. It took him so long to get the sheet and blankets over him, his two old army blankets, but why was he so cold? Why was he so horribly cold?

Araminta Sauvage smoked the rest of her reefer, listening to the Beethoven quartet on the Philco, and beneath it and around it the sound of the rain outside, and then it occurred to her that she hadn’t seen Gerry Goldsmith since yesterday afternoon. What was the old boy up to? Maybe he would like to go out for a bite to eat over at Ma’s? A perfect afternoon for one of Ma’s lovely grilled cheese sandwiches, with her homemade sourdough bread, and a cup or two or three of her sui generis chicory coffee!

She made sure her beret was on her head, donned her raincoat, took her umbrella out of its vase and, leaving the radio on, she glided out the door without locking it and up the stairs to the sixth floor to Gerry’s door.

She knocked.

“Gerard, ‘tis I, Araminta!”

She knocked again.

“Gerry, old bean, are you in?”

She thought she heard a human vocal noise.

“Gerry, old man, is that you?”

A louder noise, but just slightly louder. Could it be a groan?

She tried the knob, and the door opened.

“Gerry, are you napping?”

A groan, a definite groan.

The lamp on Gerry’s writing table (his only table) was lit.

She went over to the bed. Gerry lay fully clothed under twisted dark green blankets. His normally reddish face was pale, exactly the color of sole meunière before it’s cooked. His eyes were open, and they were bloodshot. To be frank, his eyes were usually bloodshot, but now they were especially so. His chin was covered with brindled whiskers, and they glistened with sweat.

“Gerry, are you ill, old man?”

“Minta,” he said softly.

“Yes, it is I, Araminta. Gerry, why are you lying in bed with all your clothes on?”

“Clothes,” he said, softly.

She reached down and touched his shirt.

“You are absolutely drenched. Gerry, I think you’ve caught a bug!”

“Bug,” he whispered.

She laid the back of her hand against his forehead, and his brow was warm to the touch and wet.

“All right, buddy, first thing we’re going to do is get you out of these soaking things.”

“Things,” he said, apparently trying to speak above a whisper, and failing.

“Don’t try to talk. But I’m going to get you out of these soaking wet clothes. Then I am going to get you some aspirins, and I’m going to make you a nice cup of tea. Would you like some tea?”


“Yes, tea. Tea is the great restorative liquid. And aspirins of course. Now let me pull you up into a sitting position so I can undress you, but don’t get the wrong idea, ha ha.”


“Yes, don’t get the wrong one.”

“Wrong one…”

Poor Gerry. What if he died? No, she mustn’t let him die. Poor fellow.

With great difficulty she got all of his clothes off him, even his underwear, trying but alas not succeeding not to look at him, and then she got him back under the covers. She touched his forehead. It actually felt normal now, maybe just a trifle cool. Perhaps he would live after all.

“Now, Gerard, just you lie there, and I’m going to get you those aspirins and I’l also bring up a nice hot pot of lapsang. Wouldn’t that be nice.”

“Yes, nice.”

“Just lie here and I’ll be back in a jif.”

She got up from the side of the bed where she was sitting, and on the way out she stopped at his writing table and read what was in the platen of Gerry’s old Royal portable:

“The only way to be sure not to say something stupid is to say nothing. Therefore I shall leave the following page of this work entirely blank, thus ensuring that at least one page of it shall not be utter nonsense.”

Well, it wouldn’t be the last nonsense Gerry wrote if Araminta had any say in the matter, and she went to the door, opened it, and went out. Her grilled cheese would have to wait, but after she made some lapsang and got Gerry to drink some of it, she knew what she would do, she would run down to Ma’s and tell Ma that Gerry was under the weather and could she have a nice big bowl of Ma’s chicken noodle soup in a container to take up to the poor man. Some aspirins, some lapsang, some of Ma’s soup…

No, Mr. Gerard “Gerry” (“the Brain”) Goldsmith wasn’t going to not write another page of nonsense if Miss Araminta Sauvage had anything to do with it!

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

Thursday, June 23, 2022

“Your Own League”

“And so you see,” said Terry Foley, “I never meant any harm by making the heroine of my book have mismatched breasts, but still Araminta took it as some sort of personal attack on her –”

“And this what’s her name,” said Mickey Pumpernickel, “Annabella –”

“Araminta actually.”

“Araminta – does she in point of fact have mismatched bosoms?”

“Well, yeah,” said Terry, “I mean not drastically, but one is just slightly less uh –”

Terry made a surging motion with both hands.

“Bulbous?” suggested Mickey.

“Bulbous, yes,” said Terry, “one is just ever so slightly less bulbous than the other, but just slightly – I mean, only if you look at it from a certain angle. But here’s the thing, Mickey –” yes, Terry was conversing directly with a wooden ventriloquist’s dummy, while the ventriloquist, Waldo McGee, drank his bock and smoked a cigarette and stared off into space, his lips almost imperceptibly moving – “the thing is,” continued Terry, “I found this very slight imperfection somehow deeply moving, as if it brought her ethereal beauty into the world of reality, thus transforming the world –”

“Can I interrupt you just to ask you something, kid?” said Mickey, with his squeaky, raspy voice.

“Sure,” said Terry.

“What the goddam hell ever possessed you to put that, uh, detail in your novel?”

“Uh, well, I don’t know, really –”

“I mean, are you really that dumb?”

“Uh –”

“Waldo,” the dummy said to Waldo McGee, whose lap he was sitting on, “you ever hear anything so dumb in your life?”

“What?” said Waldo.

“I said you ever hear of anything so incredibly stupid?” said Mickey, and Terry could see Waldo’s lips definitely moving now, not much, but maybe like he was muttering to himself under his breath.

“I wasn’t paying attention,” said Waldo.

“Oh, Christ,” said Mickey, and then to Terry, “In a world of his own this guy. An alcoholic little world of his own.”

Waldo said nothing to this, but just took a drink of his bock.

“Buy me another shot of Cream of Kentucky, kid,” said Mickey, “and I will give you some very valuable advice. Some very valuable advice that will stand you in very good stead for the rest of your life.”

Terry got Bob’s attention and ordered Mickey another shot of Cream of Kentucky. Terry hadn’t actually seen the dummy drink the two previous shots, but nevertheless when Terry had gazed elsewhere for just a moment, as one does in any conversation, when he looked again the shot glass had become empty.

Bob poured Mickey a fresh shot and took a quarter from Terry’s little pile of change. Terry watched Bob take the quarter down to the cash register in that unhurried way of his, and he rang it in. And when Terry turned back to Mickey and Waldo the shot glass was empty again. Someone or something was drinking the bourbon, that was for sure.

“What’s your name again, buddy?” said Mickey.

“Terry, Terry Foley.”

“Listen, Jerry –”


“Terry. Listen. Here’s my advice for you.”

“Oh, great,” said Terry, without a trace of irony.  

“Stay in your own league, kid,” said Mickey.

“Pardon me?”

“Stay in your own ballpark. I mean, you are an okay looking young feller, but this Angelina –”


“Araminta. I seen her in here with you, on more than one occasion I seen her in here with you, and I gotta say, I always wondered, what was a swell-looking frail like that with her glamorous movie star looks doing with a just okay-looking guy like you. I mean no offense.”

“Oh, no, sure,” said Terry. “In fact I agree with you, Mickey. I never really saw what she saw in me.”

“It’d be different if you was some rich guy, but you ain’t, are ya?”

“Oh, no, I’m just barely getting by on the GI Bill, and, well, my mother sends me a twenty every week or so –”

“But you ain’t rich.”

“Oh, no, far from it.”

“And this Arabella babe, well, hey, I seen a lot of good-looking hot tamales in my line of work, working clubs and and jernts all acrost this great land of liberty – chorus gals, canaries, magicians’ assistants, even hat-check babes – I seen ‘em all, believe you me, and this Agatha babe is one of the cutest little fillies I ever laid eyes on.”

“Yes, she is very beautiful.”

“So like I say, stay in your own league, Jerry. Antoinetta, a gal like that, she is major league all the way, like 1927 Yankees. And you, my friend, no offense, but you are double-A ball, at best.”


“Lower your sights.”

“You think so?”

“I know so. Like little old Daisy down the bar there.”

Mickey pointed his little wooden hand past Terry, and Terry turned and saw a small dark-haired young woman sitting down at the corner of the bar.

“That girl?” said Terry.

“That girl,” said Mickey. “You know her?”

“No. She seems nice though.”

“She is nice. They call her Daisy the Dip.”

“Daisy the Dip?”

“Daisy the Dip. Send her down a drink. If she accepts it, that means she’ll talk to you. If she talks to you, you got a chance. I ain’t saying you’re in like Flynn, but you got a chance.”

“She’s not bad looking,” said Terry.

“Not bad looking at all,” said Mickey. “I seen better, but I seen plenty worse, I’ll tell you that much. But, most important, she is in your league, Barry. A good solid Double-A player. Maybe even triple-A on a good day, but, irregardless, she is not totally out of your league.”

“So you think I should send her a drink?”

“I do. But first order me and McGee another round.”

“Well – okay,” said Terry. “What do I have to lose, right?”

“Nothing but the price of a drink, my friend.”

So Terry got Bob’s attention again, and ordered another bock and a shot for Waldo and Mickey, and also whatever the girl down at the corner of the bar was drinking.

Daisy the Dip accepted the drink, and, after she raised her fresh glass to Terry, Mickey gave Terry a nudge in the ribs.

“Now go down and ask her if she would mind if you joined her.”

“You think I should?”

“Absolutely. But one word more of advice, keep your wallet in your pocket what’s on the other side away from her.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean she’s a pickpocket by trade, and I know for a fact she don’t normally work where she drinks, but just to be on the safe side, keep your poke where it’ll be hard for her to grab it, just so you ain’t rubbing her nose in temptation.”

“Okay,” said Terry.

“Good luck, kid.”

“Thanks, Mickey,” said Terry, and he looked at Waldo, who was still staring off into space, smoking his cigarette. “And thank you, Waldo.”

“For what?” said Waldo.

“Don’t mind him, Jerry,” said Mickey. “Like I say, he’s in his own little world…”

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

Thursday, June 16, 2022

“Better Than Nothing”

Terry Foley was a pretty nice guy, but, unfortunately for him, he was also a pretty boring guy, and so when he walked into Bob’s Bowery Bar that cold rainy late afternoon, wanting only to pour out his troubles into a sympathetic ear, there was no one who would talk to him. Or, more precisely put, there was no one who let him talk. Bob’s was hardly the Algonquin Round Table when it came to wit and to elevated repartée, but still it had its standards.

First Terry tried Angie, the retired prostitute who now sold flowers from a street cart.

“Excuse me, Angie, but have you ever had your heart broken?”

Angie turned and looked at him.

“What’s your name again?”

“Terry. Terry Foley. I’m a novelist, or at least I’m trying to be a novelist, and perhaps you’ve seen me in here with a young lady named Araminta. Well, the thing is, Araminta and I have been seeing each other for some time now, and –”

“Fuck off,” said Angie.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You heard me, fuck off or shut the hell up. I am not your headshrinker.”

“Gee, I just thought maybe you would have some advice for me, or –”

“Yes, I do have some advice for you: fuck off or shut the hell up and let me drink my Tokay in peace.”


Angie was sitting on the stool to Terry’s left, and now he turned to his right, where that funny guy they called Gilbey the Geek was sitting, nursing a sticky-looking glass of what looked like Bob’s basement-brewed bock, which was the cheapest beer you could buy here.

“Hi, Gilbey, how are you doing today?”

“I ain’t seen God today.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“I seen God one time.”

“Oh, yes, I remember your telling me about it –”

“I ain’t seen him but just that oncet. I ain’t seen him since.”

“Well, maybe someday you’ll see him again, Gilbey.”

“I ain’t but seen him the oncet.”

“Yes, well, heh heh, I suppose that’s one more time than most people have seen him.”

“I don’t know about nobody else. But I seen him that one time.”

“Would you like another bock, Gilbey?”


Terry bought Gilbey a fresh bock and then he picked up his own half-drunk glass of bock and went down the bar to another empty stool.

Hector Philips Stone, the doomed romantic poet, was sitting to Terry’s left, and he was smoking a cigarette and staring at a shot glass filled to the brim with a brown liquid.

“Hi, Hector, how’s it going?”

“How’s it going? Look at this.” Hector pointed to a his left eye, all swollen and purple and bloodshot.

“Jeeze, that’s quite a shiner,” said Terry. “How did you get that?”

“Janet gave it to me.”

“Janet the waitress?”

“Yes, Janet the waitress.”

Terry turned and saw Janet laying down a pitcher at the table where the other poets all sat: Seamas McSeamas, the Irish poet; Howard Paul Studebaker, the western poet; Frank X Fagen, the nature poet; Scaramanga, the leftist poet; and Lucius Pierrepont St. Clair III, the Negro poet. Terry had never been invited to join their table, but then he made no claims to being a poet.

“Why did Janet give you a black eye, Hector?”

“Why not?” said Hector. “Because I deserved it.”

“Well, it’s funny you should mention that,” said Terry, “because, you see, I have had some women trouble myself lately, and –”

“You want my advice?”

“Yes, Hector, in fact I would, because, you see –”

“Buy yourself a football helmet, and always keep it on your head when you’re around a woman.”

“Heh heh, well, I’ll bear that in mind,” said Terry.

“Talk to you later,” said Hector. He picked up the shot glass in front of him, and drank down the brown liquid in it. Then he got up and walked, staggering just slightly, over to the poets’ table.

The ventriloquist Waldo McGee and his dummy Mickey Pumpernickel just that moment came in out of the cold rain, and made their way over to where Terry sat. Mickey pointed his little wooden hand at the seat Hector had just vacated.

“This seat taken, buddy?” said Mickey, Waldo’s lips hardly moving at all.

“Why, no, I believe it’s free,” said Terry.

Waldo climbed up on the stool and seated Mickey sideways on his lap, with Mickey looking up at Terry. Waldo wore a shabby old raincoat and rain hat, and even Mickey had on his own miniature raincoat and rain hat.

“You look like your goldfish just died, kid,” Mickey said to Terry. “Why the long puss?”

“Well,” said Terry, “to tell the truth I am a bit blue today. You see, my girlfriend just told me that, well, that she –”

“Hold on,” said Mickey. “Before you say another word, do my alcoholic friend Waldo a favor and buy him one of them glasses of the house bock. And while you’re at it, order me a shot of Cream of Kentucky. And then you can pour your little heart out to us.”

Terry got Bob’s attention and ordered the bock and the shot for Waldo and Mickey. What the heck, if a wooden dummy was the only one in here who would listen to him, then so be it. 

It was better than nothing. 

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

Thursday, June 9, 2022

“Works in Progress”

Araminta sat tapping away at her work in progress (latest title: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Decay). As usual she had simply picked up the story following the last words she had written, which in this case had been:

“Damn Kenny! Damn him and all he stood for! How dare he criticize her poetry when his own prose was so leaden and boring? And who cared about his wretched Bildungsroman, so obviously based on his own humdrum and unimaginative life? Arabella felt the need to stretch her wings. To fly. To soar! But to where?”

With that promising taking-off point, she had had no problem in filling a dozen or so pages in the space of a couple of hours.

She glanced at her desk clock. Four on the dot. Well, that was quite enough for one day’s work! She had read once in a New Yorker profile of one of her favorite novelists (Margaret St. John Maxwell, author of Sisters of Sappho, Cast Caution to the Wind, and The Girls Who Live Upstairs) that she always quit work when “she still had a little gas in the tank”, and ever since Araminta had followed this method, often ceasing her day’s labor in the middle of a sentence, or even a word.

The Philco played a Beethoven quartet, and outside Araminta’s window the rain fell. She wanted a cigarette, but she was out. Fortunately, she still had some muggles, and so she set to work rolling a reefer, which reminded her of Gerry’s Bull Durhams, which reminded her of Gerry.

Dear Gerry, it had been so kind of him to check in on her yesterday when she had been so monstrously hungover, to bring her doughnuts and hot cocoa. Such a kind man, and too bad he was in his late forties and plump.

Today she felt so much better. Amazing what a day in bed followed by a long good night’s sleep could do.

Someone knocked on her door, and then it was Terry’s voice.

“Hello? Araminta? It’s me, Terry.”

Oh, God. Terry.

“Araminta? Are you there?”

She sighed, but got up and walked to the door and opened it. Terry was standing there in his raincoat and holding his umbrella.

“Hi, there, I hadn’t heard from you so I thought maybe you would like to go down to Bob’s for a drink.”

“I am never touching alcohol again.”

“Really? Why?”

“Because the night before last I went out with Gerry Goldsmith and got horribly plastered and subsequently felt like warmed over death almost the entire next day.”

“Wait, you went out with Gerry Goldsmith? The Brain?”

“Don’t call him that.”

“What should I call him?”

“I call him Gerard.”

“So you went out with him?”

“Yes, I did. Can you blame me?”

“Why should I blame you?”

“Since you think my breasts are mismatched, what would you care?”

“I don’t think your breasts are mismatched.”

“The girl in your novel has mismatched breasts.”

“Oh. You read that part?”

“I did indeed, while you were at your creative-writing workshop.”

“Oh.” He knew he should have left that part out. “But that’s the girl in my novel,” he tried. “She’s not meant to be you.”

“Her name is Annabella and she wears black stockings and a black beret.”

“Oh, well, um –”

“My name is Araminta, and, as you can see, I am fond of wearing black stockings and a black beret.”

“Many girls wear black stockings and black berets.”

“What do you want, Terry?”

“I just wanted to see you.”

“So you can get more material for your stupid novel?”

“Do you really think it’s stupid?”

“No, stupid is perhaps too strong a word. Insipid. Derivative. Boring.”

“You told me you liked it.”

“I lied.”

“You’re very cruel.”

“You were cruel to put me in your boring novel, and you know what? I showed my breasts to Gerard and he said they were completely symmetrical.”

“You showed him your breasts?”

“Why not? You know I am a free spirit.”

“Yes, but still, there are limits, Araminta.”

“Oh, take your Irish Catholic limits and, and –” she remembered a phrase that one of her Vassar friends (Claire who was from Virginia) liked to say, ”stick them where the sun don’t shine!”

“But I love you.”

“You think you do, and for a very simple reason.”

“What is that?”

“I talked to you.”

This hit home. They both knew there was a lot of truth in what she said. Maybe not the complete truth, but a lot of it. Enough for the present moment, anyway.

“Can you forgive me?” said Terry.

“There is nothing to forgive. You cannot help being what you are.”

“And what is that?”

“A drip.”

“A drip?”


“So does this mean you’re breaking up with me?”

“Define breaking up.”

“Well, does it mean that you no longer want to, uh, how shall I put it, uh –”

“If you mean do I never want to see you in your underwear again, yes, that it precisely what I mean.”

“Hey, wait a minute.”


“You’re not actually seeing the Brain, are you?”

“Define seeing.”

“Are you, uh, you know, um –”

“Seeing him in his underwear?”


“Good day, Terry.”

“So you don’t want to go for a drink?”

“I just told you I am never touching a drop of alcohol again!”

“How about a cup of coffee?”

“Terry, you’re being very tiresome, and I’m trying to write my novel.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Well, maybe I’ll stop by tomorrow, just to, you know, see how you’re doing.”

“Goodbye, Terry.”

She closed the door.

Terry went down the hall to the staircase, down the two flights to the foyer, and opened the door. The cold rain was clattering down, and the grey mountain ranges of snow seemed hardly to have melted at all since yesterday. He opened his umbrella.

He had never had a girlfriend before, and so a girl had never broken up with him before. It was sad, but on the other hand it occurred to him that he now had a good new plot point for his novel (latest title: Young Chap, Whither Goest Thou?). 

He opened his umbrella and stepped out into the lashing cold rain, and as he walked down Bleecker toward the corner of the Bowery, he composed in his brain:

“And so he opened his umbrella and stepped out into the cold lashing rain, out into the cold grey street with the cold rain lashing down on the grey mountain ranges of dirty snow. Alone. Alone again. Or had he ever not been alone?”

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

Thursday, June 2, 2022

“This Is Where We Came In”

After Addison had pressed the buzzer five more times, a crackling metallic voice came through the speaker:

“Who the hell is it?”

“It is I, Bubbles – he whom you know as Addison!”


“No, Addison – you remember, from yesterday?”


“Sometimes you call me Amberson?”

“Oh, Amberson. You again. Scooter.”

“Yes, ha ha. Scooter if you will. May I come up?”

“You just drop by without calling first?”

“I thought I would surprise you!”

“I was taking a nap. Beat it, Scooter, and you can call me later.”

“Oh, please let me come up, Bubbles! It’s raining terribly out here.”

“So go up the corner to the San Remo and have a beer. Call me in an hour, no, two hours.”

“Please, Bubbles. I have five dollars!”


“Five dollars. And seventy cents to be exact.”

“Five dollars and seventy cents.”

“Yes, precisely.”

Addison waited. The cold rain clattered down outside the entranceway, on the grey mountain ranges of snow piled up between the sidewalk and the street, on the grey human beings who passed by under their umbrellas. Then the door lock clicked, and quickly Addison grabbed the knob before Bubbles could change her mind.

She lived on the fourth floor, no elevator of course, and although Addison was the least athletic of men, it took him less than a minute before he was knocking on her door, and only two minutes later Bubbles opened it.

“You look like a drowned rat.”

“Yes, my umbrella has a few holes in it I’m afraid. I keep meaning to replace it, but it has a certain sentimental value for me, as my Aunt Enid bought it for me when I matriculated at Swarthmore.”

“Well, come in if you’re coming in.”

She wore her kimono, and even if she had just been awakened from her nap she looked lovely in the pale light of her little studio, with only her bedside lamp turned on.

Addison had only been here twice before, but already it seemed like home, more of a home than his own tiny flat. Bubbles closed the door, and he put his ancient umbrella in the cracked vase by the door. Before he even took his hat and coat off he brought out the five-dollar bill that Milford had given him for supposedly reading his bad poems.

“Look, Bubbles, I have five. Dollars.”

“Yeah, I see.”

“And so I wondered if perhaps, if you weren’t too busy, I might avail myself of a ‘BJ’.”

“Just like that.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“What am I, your dancing monkey?”

“No, of course not, but you see I just wanted to let you know that I, uh –”

“Diamond Jim here, with your lousy five bucks in your mitt. You know why I buzzed you in, Scooter?”

“Um, not because I said I had five dollars?”

“No, I let you in because you said you had five bucks, and so I could do this.”

She hauled off and slapped him, hard, and he staggered back a couple of steps.

“Ow,” he said.

“Count yourself lucky, Scooter.”


“Because I slapped you barehanded instead of whacking you with my sap like I should have done. I’ve had it up to here with chumps like you, thinking they can buy me whenever they want.”

“I’m so sorry, Bubbles.”

His face really hurt. He had actually never been slapped before, but there was a first time for everything.

“All right, now take a hike,” she said.

“Oh, but wait,” said Addison.

“Wait for what? You want me to get my sap out of my purse, because don’t think I won’t.”

“Would you like perhaps to go to a movie?”


“A movie. I should be delighted to take you to a movie. And then afterwards perhaps we could get a bite somewhere, I mean, you know, someplace reasonable because I only have just the five-seventy, but –”

“You want to go see a movie?”

“There’s a new French film at the Waverly that has gotten some very interesting reviews.”

“You want to see a French movie?”

“Unless there’s something you would prefer?”

A pause fell here, the only sound being the rain rattling on the the glass of the flat’s one window. And then Bubbles spoke. 

“There’s a new movie around the corner at the Pantages, called The Night Before the Dawn, with Ruth Roman and Cornel Wilde, on a double bill with some movie with Marie Windsor and Steve Cochran called Gambling Boat Lady.”

“That sounds like a delightful double feature.”

“Did I hurt your face?”

“Not too much.”

“It would have hurt a lot more if I had used my sap.”

“I’m glad you didn’t use the sap,” said Addison.

“All right, let me get dressed.”

“Should we get a newspaper and check for the showtimes?”

“Who cares? We’ll watch the movies until we get to the part where we came in.”

“Splendid idea.”

And as it happened Addison didn’t get his BJ, but during the March of Time newsreel (about big-game hunting in the Amazon rain forest) Bubbles did give him a gentle massage through his trousers (the same trousers that comprised one half of the brown suit his Aunt Edith had bought him at Wanamaker’s for his graduation from Swarthmore), although not to the point of what he believed the French called la petite mort. He was not quite sure if he would have to pay for this massage, or if he should even ask. Just to be on the safe side (he could still feel the delicious burn of that slap!) he decided to wait and see if Bubbles brought the matter up…

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