I am living in hell, he told me, and I said, is that right,
Frankie?   and he said, I am truly living in hell, you
would never believe it.
everything, he continued, has hardened into a repetitious
going-on toward nowhere.
is that right, Frankie?   fucking-a, he said, you ever
been locked into a position where the only escape is
yes, I told him.
then what do you do? he asked.
Frankie, I just wait, death is coming anyhow.
but, he told me, I can’t wait.
Frankie, you’ll wait.
why, he asked me, is pain the most present and constant
thing in life?
physical pain is hard to explain, Frankie, but I know what
causes most spiritual pain.
yeah?   yeah?   he asked.
most spiritual pain, my lad, is caused by
yeah?   yeah?  he asked.
overexpectation, I said, try to avoid it.
do you? he asked.
yes, more and more I expect less and less.
and do you get less?
almost always, Frankie.
damn, he said, it always helps to talk to you, you’ve been
around the block.
I’m afraid so, Frankie.
he asked, did you ever think you would live this long?
Frankie, I haven’t lived this long, I’ve last this
long, good

I hung up the receiver and pulled the
toward me.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript