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…}

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