Monday, December 24, 2012

bob the bum's christmas

bob was a bum
his brain was in a constant hum
from drinking whiskey wine and gin
o what a state they left him in

he was in for the long haul
and did stumble trip and fall
from tijuana to bangor maine
landing on sidewalks feeling no pain

no barroom light was e'er so dim
as not to shine through fog to him
and he would crawl on hands and knees
through their doorways, if need be

up to the rail he would slink
hoping some kind stranger would buy him a drink
but since the truth can not be hid
hardly anyone ever did

so, if the tale can be believed
bob found himself on christmas eve
in west new york - or was it hackensack?
looking up at snowflakes as he lay on his back

and every flake was a memory
of all that he had hoped to be
and as they piled up on his face
he thought he heard a far off trace

of a happy song of long ago
through the more rapidly falling snow
and then amidst the wintry whirl
he spied the face of a little girl

the little match girl - no surprise
and then before his wondering eyes
the little drummer boy appeared
then st peter with his long white beard

the ghostly trio cleared their throats
st peter and the girl struck notes
on harps that they had brought along -
the three began to sing a song

"since this christmas may be your last
let us sing of good times past
before the crackling family fire
before your straits were not so dire

when end of year brought promise bright
and happy children's pure delight
at presents purchased with honest wages
you laughed at winter's furious rages - "

the song went on, the words grew faint
but on the wind he heard the plaint
of a little girl at a tavern door
crying "daddy, daddy, please no more

come home before you spend all your pay"
yes, that was the song of yesterday
now he was tired - oh so tired -
beneath the snow the bum expired

Sunday, December 16, 2012

pals, part 3: dangerous

click here for previous chapter

click here to begin at the beginning

night turned to dawn
the world moved on
on the details i will not dwell
but evening finally fell

i told my brain, don't start
but with a palpitating heart
i made my way back to ray's cafe
wondering what i would say

for i was trembling with fear
that jane would not be there
but if the truth i could tell
i was also afraid of the strange spell

she had cast on my fevered brain
that i could not explain
and i told myself i believed
i would actually be relieved

if she did not even show
and then i could safely go
back to the warm embrace
of the life i had learned to face

life just goes on and on
another night, another dawn
what is wrong with that anyway?
that would be hard to say

now jane had entered the mixture
and changed the whole picture
could i ever go back again
to the way i had always been?

in my brain i heard a roar
my steps brought me closer to the door
i pushed it open with a force of will
and then everything grew still

that is, in my own perception
to everyone else, without exception
nothing in the room, or the world, had changed
everything was still the same

again, henry was not there
but seated in "his" chair
as if she had every right to be
was my woman of mystery

she was looking down at the table
as though she were not able
to unravel some mysterious rune
or hear some forgotten tune

i approached with some hesitation
and fearful trepidation
she suddenly raised her head
"oh, there you are," she said

as if it were the most natural thing
my presence to her to bring
i steadied myself on the table
and responded as well as i was able

"i will only be a minute"
i brought back a glass with liquor in it
what could be more civilized?
a hurricane whirled behind my eyes

"as i was saying", she resumed
and started in on what i would soon
recognize as her obsessions
which branched off in many directions

like henry she was a fund of knowledge
perhaps not learned in any college
of wide repute - but rather
the strange fancies the wind would gather

and scatter to the desperate brains
of those who walk in wind and rain
and seek to look behind the curtain
of this world so flickering and uncertain

she expounded on the "new hope"
but scorned the masons and the pope
einstein and darwin, freud and marx
were only fit to feed the sharks

it all made perfect, and no sense
i was her perfect audience
her flow of words fell down on me
like raindrops on a calm blue sea

then suddenly - she stopped
i thought perhaps she wanted to cop
a cigarette - and offered my pack
but she was staring out the window behind my back

i turned and looked -
nothing - she shook
her head - "for a minute i thought
i saw - wait - i forgot - "

and with this and other mumbles
she jumped to her feet and stumbled
out the door - leaving me
in a cloud of wavering mystery

perhaps at this juncture
i should take the time to puncture
any thought you might entertain
that jane was a "dangerous dame"

and in view of what i will relate
as to my and her ultimate fate
that she was some kind of "femme fatale"
and not just an unfortunate gal

another speck of human dust
wandering blind , as we all must
who fell in with the wrong crowd -
the roaring in my brain is getting loud -

part 4: reenter henry

Friday, December 14, 2012

ace of night - 3. davenport 7 - 5297

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

no dame tonight.

all right, i had been wrong before. and chuckie wouldn't be in harry's office forever, and i did not feel like looking at him or listening to him again that night - or any night.

i finished my free drink, left a half buck tip - pretty generous, i thought, considering my situation - for the bartender, and got up off the stool.

i was halfway to the door.

"hey, pal, got a second?" the bartender was holding something out to me.

i went over to him. it was a matchbook he was holding. "just take this. it might interest you, might not."

i didn't feel like arguing with him. "sure, why not?" i figured there was a phone number written on it, or an address. i took it.


he just nodded, turned away.

i started to head back down harry's dark hallway.

then it hit me. jeez, what a chump i was - was i losing my touch, and my mind? i had been away for too long. way too long.

it was some kind of frame! some cop - probably chuckie - would brace me, they would find the matchbook on me and the phone number or address on it would be the number or address of some poor slob harry had just had bumped off - probably in a very messy way, as he liked to do.

or, the matchbook had some fingerprints on it that - you get the idea.

i got close to the wall, and took the matchbook out of my pocket. not wasting any time, i held it in my handkerchief and rubbed it over good, even the nine or ten matches still in it.sure enough, there was a phone number - just a phone number - written in it.

davenport 7 - 5297

easy enough to remember. i tossed the matchbook down at my feet. and as it fell into the shadow i saw the gold lettering on the front:

johnny demarco's . best food and drink.

never heard of it.

i made it outside to the sidewalk. nobody braced me.

i started walking down the street. i passed a couple of cabs.

so maybe there was no frame. maybe i was imagining things.

even so, i was right back where i was before i saw harry.

davenport 7 - 5297. what did i have to lose? i decided to call it when i got back to my hotel.

it started to rain. just what i needed. i still had eleven blocks to go back to the hotel and i didn't feel like wasting money on a cab.

then it started to really rain. what the hell, i would take a cab. i was wearing my only decent suit and i didn't want it getting waterlogged. i ducked into the nearest doorway and waited for one.

the rain was jumping in the street when one finally came by. i could barely make out that it was a cab. i jumped out and waved and it came over. i had to jump back so it wouldn't send a wave crashing over me.

i reached for the rear door.

"hey mister, i saw him first! it was me that called him over!"

i turned and there she was. the dame. the one i knew i was g

"no problem, miss. we can share. in fact, i will pay, as far as i am going."

"that's mighty nice of you, mister , but you don't have to be a big shot. i'll pay my way."

"i'm headed for the hotel marmont."

"the belmore - it's one more block."

the cabbie leaned over. "jeez, will one or both of you get in, you are wet enough already."

she got in. i got in beside her, and closed the door.

"did i hear you say hotel marmont, pal?"

"yes, you did." he pulled out.

i turned to the girl. "and what did you say your name was?"

"miss lost lamb. you must be mister smooth."

"the old lines are the best lines. say, a guy staying in a hotel, a girl staying in a hotel, we got a lot in common."

"the belmore is a ladies residence hotel - no gentlemen beyond the lobby."

"one of those places. but maybe i'm not a gentleman."

"then you don't even get in the door."

"ha ha. my name is jeff - jeff josephus."

"i told you my name. miss lost lamb."

the more she talked the more i thought i heard some kind of accent under the all american girl act. frog? kraut? russki even?

"if you say so," i answered. "pleased to meet you. hey, maybe i'll see you around. living so close and all."

"you never know, do you? " she turned and looked out at the rain.

"nice view, huh? very scenic. i used to live around here, but i been away for a while."

she ignored me. i let it go. for now. the cab kept going. we hit mostly green lights.

"we must be almost there," she finally said.

"here you go, pal. hotel marmont."

the meter said three sixty five. i gave him four ones.

"keep it. she can pay you too if she wants."

i got out. it was raining harder than ever. i ran into the hotel without looking back.

maybe she didn't know it, but miss lost lamb hadn't seen the last of me.

4. the wind and the rain