The bell rings again.|
I open the door.
Three guys walk in. Always these guys. A woman never pisses on my porch, a woman hardly ever comes by. How am I going to get any sex ideas? I have almost forgotten how to do it. But they say it's like riding a bicycle, you never forget. It's better than riding a bicycle.
It's Crazy Jack and two guys I don't know. 'Look, Jack,' I say, 'I thought I was rid of you.'
Jack just sits down. The other two guys sit down. Jack has promised me never to come by again but he is on the wine most of the time, so promises don't mean much. He lives with his mother and pretends to be a painter. I know four or five guys living with or supported by their mother, and the guys pretend to genius. And all the mothers are alike: 'Oh, Nelson has never had any work accepted. He's too far ahead of his time.' But say Nelson is a painter and gets something hung: 'Oh, Nelson has a painting hanging at the Warner-Finch Galleries this week. His genius is being recognized at last! He's asking $4,000 for the work. Do you think that's too much?' Nelson, Jack, Biddy, Norman, Jimmy and Ketya. Fuck.
Jack has on blue jeans, is barefooted, no shirt, undershirt, just a brown shawl thrown over him. One guy has a beard and grins and blushes continually. The other guy is just fat. Some kind of leech.
'Have you seen Borst lately?' Jack asks.
'Let me have one of your beers.'
'No. You guys come around, drink all my shit, split and leave me on a dry shore.'
He leaps up, runs out and gets his wine bottle which he has hidden under the cushion on the porch chair. He comes back, takes off the lid, takes a suck.
'I was down at Venice with this chick and one hundred rainbows. I thought I spotted the heat and I ran up to Borst's place with this chick and the hundred rainbows. I knocked on the door and told him, 'Quick, let me in! I've got one hundred rainbows and the heat is right behind me!' Borst closed the door. I kicked it in and ran in with the chick. Borst was on the floor, jacking off some guy. I ran into the bathroom with the chick and locked the door. Borst knocked. I said, 'Don't you dare come in here!' I stayed in there with the chick for about an hour. We knocked off two pieces of ass to amuse ourselves. Then we came out.'
'Did you dump the rainbows?'
'Hell no, it was a false alarm. But Borst was very angry.'
'Shit,' I say, 'Borst hasn't written a decent poem since l955. His mother supports him. Pardon me. But I mean, all he does is look at TV, eat these delicate little celeries and greens and jog along the beach in his dirty underwear. He used to be a fine poet when he was living with those young boys in Arabia. But I can't sympathize. A winner goes wire to wire. It's like Huxley said, Aldous, that is, 'Any man can be a . . .' '
'How you doing?' Jack asks.
'Nothing but rejects,' I say.
The one guy begins playing his flute. The leech just sits there. Jack lifts his wine bottle. It is a beautiful night in Hollywood, California. Then the guy who lives in the court behind me falls out of bed, drunk. It makes quite a sound. I'm used to it. I'm used to the whole court. All of them sit in their places, shades drawn. They get up at noon. Their cars sit out front dust-covered, tires going down, batteries weakening. They mix drink with dope and have no visible means of support. I like them. They don't bother me.
The guy gets into bed again, falls out.
'You silly damn fool,' you hear him say, 'get back into that bed.'
'What's all that noise?' Jack asks.
'Guy behind me. He's very lonely. Drinks a beer now and then. His mother died last year and left him twenty grand. He sits around and masturbates and looks at baseball games and cowboy shootums on TV. Used to be a gas station attendant.'
'We've got to split.' says Jack, 'want to come with us?'
'No,' I say.
They explain that it is something to do with the House of Seven Gables. They are going to see somebody who had something to do with the House of Seven Gables. It isn't the writer, the producer, the actors, it is somebody else.
'Well, no,' I say, and they all run out. It is a beautiful sight.
Then I sit down to the monkeys again. Maybe I can juggle those monkeys up. If I can get all twelve of them fucking at once! That's it! But how? And why? Check the Royal Ballet of London. But why? I'm going crazy. Okay, the Royal Ballet of London has this idea. Twelve monkeys flying while they ballet. Only before the performance somebody gives them all the Spanish Fly. Not the ballet. The monkeys. But the Spanish Fly is a myth, isn't it? Okay, enter another mad scientist with a real Spanish Fly! No, no, oh my God, I just can't get it right!
The phone rings. I pick it up. It's Borst:
'I have to keep it short. I'm broke.'
'Well, I lost my two sponsors. The stock market and the tight dollar.'
'Well, I always knew it was going to happen. So I'm getting out of Venice. I can't make it here. I'm going to New York City.'
'New York City.'
'I thought that's what you said.'
'Well, I'm broke you see, and I think I can really make it there.'
'Losing my sponsors is the best thing that ever happened to me.'
'Now I feel like fighting again. You've heard about people rotting along the beach. Well, that's what I've been doing down here: rotting. I've got to get out of here. And I'm not worried. Except for the trunks.'
'I can't seem to get them packed. So my mother's coming back from Arizona to live here while I'm gone, and eventually I'll be back here.'
'All right, Jerry.'
'But before I go to New York I'm going to stop off at Switzerland and perhaps Greece. Then I'm coming back to New York.'
'All right, Jerry, keep in touch. Always good to hear.'
Then I am back to the monkeys again. Twelve monkeys who can fly, fucking. How can it be done? Twelve bottles of beer are gone. I find my reserve half-pint of scotch in the refrigerator. I mix one-third glass scotch with two-thirds water. I should have stayed in the goddamned post office. But even here, like this, you have a minor chance. Just get those twelve monkeys fucking. If you'd been born a camel boy in Arabia you wouldn't even have this chance. So get your back up and get those monkeys at it. You've been blessed with a minor talent and you're not in India where probably two dozen boys could write you under if they knew how to write. Well, maybe not two dozen, maybe just a round dozen.
I finish the half pint, drink half a bottle of wine, go to bed, forget it.
The next morning at nine a.m. the doorbell rings. There is a young black girl standing there with a stupid-looking white guy in rimless glasses. They tell me that I have rnade a promise to go boating with them at a party three nights ago. I get dressed, get into the car with them. They drive to an apartment and a black-haired kid walks out. 'Hello, Hank,' he says. I don't know him. It appears I met him at the party. He passes out little orange life-belts. Next I know we're down at the pier. I can't tell the pier from the water. They help me down a swinging wooden contraption that leads to a floating dock. The bottom of the contraption and the dock are about three feet apart. They help me down.
'What the fuck is this?' I ask. 'Does anybody have a drink?' I am with the wrong people. Nobody has a drink. Then I am in a small rowboat, rented, and somebody has attached a half-horsepower mutor. The bottom of the boat is filled with water and two dead fish. I don't know who the people are. They know me. Fine, fine. We head out to sea. I vomit. We pass a suckerfish floating near the top of the water. A suckerfish, I think, a suckerfish wrapped around a flying monkey. No, that's terrible. I vomit again.
'How's the great writer?' asks the stupid-looking guy in the prow of the boat, the guy with the rimless glasses.
'What great writer?' I ask, thinking he is talking about Rimbaud, although I never thought Rimbaud a great writer.
'You,' he says.
'Me?' I say, 'Oh, fine. Think I'm going to Greece next year.'
'Grease?' he says. 'You mean up your ass?'
'No,' I answer, 'up yours.'
We head out to sea where Conrad made it. To hell with Conrad. I'll take coke with bourbon in a dark bedroom in Hollywood in 1970, or whatever year you read this. The year of the monkey-orgy that never happened. The motor flits and gnashes at the sea; we plunge on toward Ireland. No, it's the Pacific. We plunge on toward Japan. To hell with it.