action off the board

I was coming around the little cove, walking toward
the betting windows when I heard some arguing
from the stairway near the bar.
–a young man was screaming at an old man with a
cane who had just passed him where he had been
sitting on the stairway.

“you farted in my face, you old fuck!”

the old man turned around, pointed his cane
at the young man:

“up your ass!”

I stopped and watched and a whole row of drinkers
at the bar and the bartender watched too.

“you old fuck!” answered the young man, “I’ll
kick your ass!”

“looks to me,” said the old man, “like you’re
sitting on your face and that’s your butt you’re
mouthing from.”

“I’ll kick your ass!” screamed the young man,
“you think I won’t kick your ass?”

“bullshit,” said the old man.
then he turned and slowly walked off…

I watched him leave, then got into motion
as I got abreast of the bar
one of the patrons smiled at me:

“the old man was drunk…”

“yeah,” said another patron, “the old man
was drunk.”

as I moved off I looked back at all the
guys along the bar and they were
all drunk.
and the young man still sat on the
steps thinking about the fart and
other things.

some days are much more interesting
than others.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript