bright boy

we were in one of those after-hour places.
I don’t know how long we had been there.
I noticed a dead cigar in my hand, attempted
to light it, burned my nose…

“you never met Randy Newhall?” the guy
next to me asked.

“naw…”

“he got through college in 2 years instead
of 4…”

I got the barkeep to bring us a couple more
drinks.

“…he walked into the largest agency in the
world, they had 3,000 applications for this
one open position but he didn’t fill one
out, he just talked to management for 13
minutes and was hired…”

“…uh…”

“he began in the mailroom and in 6 months he
was arranging package deals for tv programs
and the movies…
nobody ever got out of the mailroom that
fast, and next he married an intelligent girl
just out of law school…”

“yeah?”

“in his office he seemed to spend most of his
time putting his golf balls across the room.
he made work look easy…”

“listen,” I asked, “what time is it?   the
battery in my watch went dead…”

“never mind…
…he was promoted to upper management and
stopped putting…
he was
the youngest man in America in such a
position…”

“you buy the next round,” I told him.

“sure, well, he doubled his work hours and
after a while his wife left him–women don’t
understand…”

“what?”

“guys like him.”

“oh…”

“he didn’t contest the divorce…”

“I didn’t either…”

“he just went ahead, that didn’t stop him, he
kept up his contacts, it was amazing, you’d
see him having dinners with congressmen, with
mayors…”

“are you going to get the next round?”

he got the barkeep to bring two more.

“he got into it, he got into the 15 and 16
hour day, and after work he began frequenting
an after-hour place above the strip, to relax,
to let go…”

“a place like this, huh?”

“this was the place… he didn’t close any
deals here but he relaxed with the great, the
actors, the artists, the screenwriters, the
directors, the producers, the industrialists
and so forth… and, of course, the many
beautiful girls…”

“here?”

“yes, look around…”

I did.

“you’re really funny sometimes…”

“well, then, to get on… he first tumbled into
coke, then more coke, mostly in sundry condos and
homes after the after-hour places…”

“flying, what?”

“yes, but in his upper management position he
continued to function well…    then
he got into H…”

“kicks like a horse, huh? my
round…”

I ordered two more.

“…and after some months he felt more and more
depressed, he took 6 weeks off and went to
Hawaii, surfing, laying in the sun…”

“did he screw?”

“he told me that he tried…   anyhow, he came back
and he used to talk to me here just like you’re
doing now…”

“oh, great…”

“he became obsessed with this Mexican Real Estate
Dream
which
he would front
with a Mexican friend who was well adored as a
great Mexican comedian, and the way
he layed out the master plan of the M.R.E. Dream–
within 8 years he would control and indirectly
own one-third of the Mexican nation, and from
there on in it would only be a matter of going on
to controlling one-third of this nation and that
nation…  after that, it could be progressively
upped until…”

“drink up,” I suggested, “then what happened?”

“well, he didn’t quite get it rolling… instead,
at the office he became snappish and cantankerous,
throwing ashtrays, yanking the phone from the plug,
once pouring a bottle of TAB down a secretary’s
blouse… yet he retained a rather stylish, though
obnoxious brilliance… and he remained semi-function-
al which was better than most of those about…”

“most don’t have much…”

“that’s true… anyhow, he began arriving at work
dressed in a house painter’s outfit, you know, these
white overalls, including cap, and management gave
him a 3 month furlough….”

“BARKEEP!” I yelled, “COUPLE MORE!”

“..he sold his house and moved into a small apart-
ment on Fountain Avenue, and friends came by for
a while, then they stopped coming around…”

“suckerfish like winners…”

“yes, and then there was a period when he tried to
get back with his x-wife but she didn’t want any more
of that, she was with this young sculptor from Boston
who was said to be immensely talented and who taught
at one of the leading universities…”

“horse dung…”

“of course…
anyhow, our friend has this second floor apartment,
as I told you, on Fountain Avenue. so…
one day the manager who lived in the apartment
below noticed this water leaking down through his
ceiling…”

“oh?”

“the manager went upstairs and knocked on the door,
no answer, he took out his key and opened it, walked
in and there was this guy, he was standing there with
his head in the bathroom sink and the water was still
running out of the tap and overflowing the sink and
running to the floor, and the manager wasn’t sure, you
know, such things are strange, and he walked up and
noticed that the head just stayed there in the sink,
and the manager touched his legs, his back, and every-
thing was stiff, r.m. had long ago set in, there he
was standing with his head in the bathroom sink with
the water running and the overhead light on…”

“listen, Monty,” I said, “your name is ‘Monty’ isn’t
it?”

“yes, you’ve got it right…”

“I drove here and I’ve got to go and I want to know
if the parking lot to this place is in the front or
out the back or to one side…”

“it’s straight out the back…”

“goodnight, “Monty…”

“goodnight…”

I knew which way was back.   I
got off the stool and started
moving toward there.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1982
Source
Original manuscript