Thursday, 11 December 2008

10 December 2008

in the tenements in the back of Howard. His wife was asleep when we came in. The only light in the apartment was the bulb over her bed. We had to get up on a chair and unscrew the bulb as she lay smiling beneath us. She was about 15 years older than Walter and the sweetest woman in the world. Then we had to plug in the extension over her bed and she smiled and smiled. She never asked Walter where he’d been, what time it was, nothing. Finally we were set in the kitchen with the extension and sat down around the humble table to drink beer and tell the stories. We told Walter to tell us his story. He said he was in a whore house in LA where they had a monkey at the entrance that you had to place a bet with and if you lost the monkey gave it to you up the back. If you won the girl was yours for free. He insisted this was a true story. “That monkey” he said “ain’t never seen such a monkey. Place the bet in the cage, you know and monkey roll the cage and dice come out. Man lose a bet to that monkey and gets himself britched. I ain’t telling you no lie. That’s the monkey.” Neal and I were delighted with the story. Then it was time to leave and move the extension back to the bedroom and screw back the bulb. Walter’s wife smiled and smiled as we repeated the thing all over again. She never said a word. Out on the dawn street Neal said “Now you see, man, there’s a REAL woman for you. Never a harsh word, never a complaint, her old man can come in any hour of the night with anybody and have talks in the kitchen and drink the beer and leave any old time. This is a man, and that’s his castle.” He pointed up at the tenement proudly. We stumbled off. The big night was over. A cruising car followed us suspiciously for a few blocks. We bought fresh buns in a bakery and ate them in the gray ragged street. A tall bespectacled well-dressed fellow came stumbling down the street with a Negro in a truckdriving cap. They were a strange pair. A big truck rolled by and the Negro pointed at it excitedly and tried to express his feeling. The tall white man furtively looked over his shoulder and counted his money. “It’s Bill Burroughs!” giggled Neal. “Counting his money and worried about everything, and all that other boy wants to do is talk about trucks and things he knows.” We fol-

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