a loser

it was on the train to Del Mar and I had left my seat
to go to the bar car, I had a couple of beers and came
back and sat down.
“pardon me,” said the lady next to me, “but you’re
sitting in my husband’s seat.”
“oh yeah,” I said and I picked up my Racing Form
and began reading it; the first race looked tough.
then this man was standing there:   “hey, buddy,
you’re in my seat!”
“I told him,” said the lady, “but he didn’t pay
any attention.”
“hey,” I told the man, “this is my seat!”
“it’s bad enough he takes my seat,” said the man,
“but now he’s reading my Racing Form!
I looked at him, he was puffing his chest out.
“look at you,” I said, “puffing your god damned
chest out!”
“you’re in my seat, buddy!” he told me.
“look,” I said, “I’ve been in this seat since this
train left the station.    ask anybody around here!”
“oh no, that’s not right,” said a man behind me,
he was in that seat when the train left the
“are you sure?”
“sure I’m sure!”

I got up and walked into the next train car.
there was my seat by the window and there was
my Racing Form.

I went back to the other train car where the
man was reading the Racing Form.
“hey, look,” I started to say….
“forget it,” said the man.
“just leave us alone,” said his wife.

I walked back to the other train car, sat down and
looked out the window
pretending to be vaguely interested in the land-
glad that the people in my car didn’t know what
the people in the other car knew.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript