Open All Night


By Charles Bukowski

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Charles Bukowski
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1574231367


Chapter One


2 buddies


I am not sure of our exact ages
when we met
(perhaps 9 or 10)
but Moses was one of my first real
friends:
Jewish and very quiet
and my second real friend was
Red -
he had one healthy arm
and part of another:
the lower part of his right arm
was a pure white enamel with a
brown leather glove
over the artificial fingers.

Moses vanished first.
my father informed me about him:
he pointed to a garage down the street
a large white and yellow structure
with sagging doors:
"your friend Moses was caught in there
doing something to a 5-year-old
girl. they got him."

Red's friendship was more durable.
we went swimming together all summer in the public
pool. he had to remove his artificial arm
in the public as he splashed about with his arm and a
half, the short arm ending just below
the elbow. it looked like it had
tiny nipples on the end of it
or maybe
it looked like tiny fingers.

the other boys teased him about his
half-arm and his tiny fingers
but I was a very mean lad
and I told them
in terms most definite
that the pool belonged to
everybody
and to let him
swim
god-damn-it
or else.

sometimes this brought us trouble later:
a gang would follow us home
to his house or mine and
more than once
standing outside
they'd scream at us
until we came out
and met them on the front
lawn.

I wasn't as good as Red.
he was very good with his pure white arm
with the brown glove,
it was usually around 4 or 5
against 2
but Red simply clubbed them down
one after another
swinging that hard arm
I'd hear the sound of it against
skulls
and there would be boys down on the lawn
holding their heads
and this only made me meaner
and Id get one or two of my
own
and soon everybody but Red and
myself would have vanished off the
street.

we went swimming in the public pool
together
more and more often.
there always seemed to be new boys
always more new boys
who couldn't quite grasp
how it worked.
they just didn't understand that we only
wanted to swim and be left
alone.

harking back to
Moses
I'm not so sure
but in a way
unfortunately
he must have been
missing some parts
too.
we never saw him again
but his mother sure could
cook
I remember all those delicious
cooking smells throughout the
house.

I never saw Red's mother cooking
anything.

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Open All Nightby Charles Bukowski Copyright © 2003 by Charles Bukowski
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.