human nature

it has been going on for some time.
there is this waitress where I get my coffee
at the racetrack.
“how you doing today?” she asks.
“winning pretty good,” I answer.
“you won yesterday, didn’t you?” she
asks.
“yes,” I say, “and the day before.”

I don’t know much about signs but I
believe we must have conflicting
signs.

“you seem to be the only person
around here who keeps winning,”
she states.

“is that so?” I answer.

there is a very strange thing about
it all:    on my losing days
she never seems to be
there.
perhaps she has days off or works
another floor.

she bets too and loses.
she always loses.
and even though we might have
conflicting signs, I am still sorry for
her.
I decide the next time I see her
I will tell her that I am
losing.

so I do.
when she asks, “how you doing?”
I say, “god, I can’t understand it,
I’m losing, I can’t hit anything, every horse
I bet seems to run last!”
“really?” she asks.
“really,” I say.

it works.
she bends her head down a bit
and here comes one the largest smiles
I have ever seen, it damn near cracks
her face open.

I get my coffee, tip her well anyhow, walk
out to check the
toteboard.

if I died in a flaming crash on the freeway
she’d be happy for a
week.

I take a sip of coffee.
what?
she’s put in a large shot of cream!
she knows I like it black!
in the happiness of her excitement
she’d forgotten.

the bitch.

that’s what I got for lying.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1991
Source
Original manuscript