cancer

I found her room at the top of the
stairway.
she was alone.
“hello, Henry,” she said, then,
“you know, I hate this room, there’s
no window.”

I had a terrible hangover.
the smell was unbearable,
I felt as if I was going to
vomit.

“they operated on me two days ago,”
she said, “I felt better the next
day but now it’s the same, maybe
worse.”

“I’m sorry, mom.”

“you know, you were right, your father
is a terrible man.”

poor woman.    a brutal husband and
an alcoholic son.

“excuse me, mom, I’ll be right
back…”

the smell had seeped into me,
my stomach was jumping.
I got out of the room
and walked halfway down the stairs.
sat there
holding onto the railing,
breathing the fresh
air.

the poor woman.

I kept breathing the air and
managed not to
vomit.

I got up and walked back up the
stairs and into the room.

“he had me committed to a mental
institution, did you know
that?”

“yes. I informed them
that they had the wrong person
in there.”

“you look sick, Henry, are you all
right?”

“I am sick today, mom, I’m going
to come back and see you
tomorrow.”

“all right, Henry…”

I got up, closed the door, then
ran down the stairs
I got outside, to a rose
garden.

I let it all go into the rose
garden.

poor damned woman…


the next day I arrived with
flowers.
I went up the stairway to the
door.
there was a wreath on the
door.
I tried the door anyhow.
it was locked.

I walked down the stairway
through the rose garden
and out to the street
where my car was
parked.

there were two little girls
about 6 or 7 years old
walking home from school.

“pardon me, ladies, but would you
like some flowers?”

they just stopped and stared at
me.

“here,” I handed the bouquet to the
taller of the girls.    “now, you
divide these, please give your
friend half of them.”

“thank you,” said the taller
girl, “they are very
beautiful.”

“yes, they are,” said the other
girl, “thank you very
much.”

they walked off down the street
and I got into my car,
it started, and
I drove back to my
place.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1990
Source
Original manuscript