Sunday, December 30, 2012

the reader

'It's a terrible thing'.
The other nodded, not caring. Outside the pub, in the street above the rising half circle of thirty-nine steps, a woman carrying a crying baby ducked as a speeding car hurled water from a puddle ponding at the curb, drenching both, the baby no longer wailing. She was mad, but made note of the method. Throw The Bath Water On The Baby.

'Yeah. Terrible. I heard before he started smoking he sounded like Capote on helium'.
'He did it for her, that's what they say'. He poured another whiskey, held the bottle in both hands momentarily trying to read the fine-print black on gold label as though a desperate lifesaving message in a bottle.
'Does she phone him up then'?
'What'?
'Does she dial a long number overseas, reading the poem slowly, him scrawling red-eyed letter by letter by candlelight?'
'They don't do things like that anymore, George. Speaking of red eyes..'.
'..She pays him with a carton of mentholated. And then he puts the film canister in a package and sends by airmail express...'
'Stop it, George. This isn't the thirties'.
It was raining harder now. These last two in the Basement Pub hunched over the table, lips nearly kissing the oilcloth as they spoke.
'Grotty, I say. If a surgeon sawed him open he'd have to chip the charcoal away with a sculptor's tooth chisel. Clink clink'.
'You know, if she sent him Zip-a-Dee-Du-Dah, he'd read it like a campfire ghost story.'
'No need to scare small children. It's terrible.'
It was quiet. Rainwater was snaking down eaves troughs in a deep, soulful, hollowing-out sound first, punctuated in uneven drips from the ceiling, spittoon drops captured in a metal bucket.
'Does she send him dry matches too then, George?'


image: by R.A.D. Stainforth

8 Comments:

Blogger Tess Kincaid said...

Capote on helium...giggle...

12/30/2012 8:10 PM  
Blogger Kathe W. said...

Oh- my god- so grim- so brilliantly written - awfully and artfully wrought.
(tobacco continues to kill my family members who love cigarettes more than life with us)

12/31/2012 1:29 AM  
Blogger Berowne said...

Capote on helium. Capote WAS on helium. :-)

12/31/2012 4:30 AM  
Blogger Catfish Tales said...

Loved the movement of this piece. It had a sort of Forties/Bogart feel to it all, IMO.
I hate to pick a part lines, as it was all very good in its rhythm and flow; but, for some reason, this particular line stuck out as powerful imagery: " lips nearly kissing the oilcloth as they spoke".

12/31/2012 4:48 AM  
Blogger Wayne Pitchko said...

nicely done and thanks for sharing Phil

1/01/2013 1:00 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

As always, a brilliant write!

Happy New Year ....

1/01/2013 12:02 PM  
Blogger M. A. S. said...

Very nice. Your words are poetic, but utilitarian. Great write.

1/01/2013 3:13 PM  
Blogger ~T~ said...

Bathwater solves many squalls...

1/05/2013 11:48 PM  

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