I never bring my wife

I park, get out, lock the car, it’s a perfect day, warm and
easy, I feel all right, I begin walking toward the track
entrance and a little fat guy joins me, he walks at my side,
I don’t know where he came from.
“hi,” he says, “how you doing?”
“o.k.,” I say.
he says, “I guess you don’t remember me.  you’ve seen me before,
maybe two or three times.”
“maybe so,” I say, “I’m at the track every day.”
“I come maybe three or four times a month,” he says.
“with your wife?”  I ask.
“oh no,” he says, “I never bring my wife.”
we walk along and I walk faster; he struggles to keep up.

“who you like in the first?” he asks.
I tell him that I haven’t gotten the Form yet.

“where do you sit?” he asks.
I tell him that I sit in a different place everytime.

“that god damned Gilligan,” he says, “is the worst jock
at the track.   lost a bundle on him the other day.   why
do they use him?”
I tell him that Whittingham and Longden think he’s all
“sure, they’re friends,” he answers.   “I know something about
Gilligan.   want to hear it?”
I tell him to forget it.

we are nearing the newspaper stands near the entranceway
and I slant off toward the left as if I were going to buy
a paper.
“good luck,” I tell him and drift off.
he appears startled, his eyes go into shock; he reminds me
of some women who only feel secure when somebody’s thumb is
up their ass.
he looks about, spots another, a grey haired old man with a
limp, he rushes up, catches stride with the old guy and begins
talking to him….

I pay my way in, find a seat far from everybody, sit down.
I have seven or eight good quiet minutes, then I hear a
movement:   a young man has seated himself near me, not next
to me but one seat apart, although there are hundreds of
empty seats elsewhere.
another Mickey Mouse, I think.   why do they always need
I keep working at my figures.
then I hear his voice:   “the Blue Baron will take the first
I make a note to scratch that dog out and then I look up and
it seems that his remark was directed at me:   there’s
nobody else within fifty yards.
so I see his face.
he has a face the women would love:   utterly bland and
he has remained almost untouched by circumstance, he’s
a miracle of zero.
even I gaze upon him, enchanted:
it’s like looking at an endless lake of milk
never rippled by even a pebble.

I look back down at my Form.

“who do you like?” he asks.

“sir,” I tell him, “I’d prefer not to speak.”

he looks at me from his perfectly trimmed black moustache,
there is not one hair longer than the other or out of place;
I’ve tried moustaches; I’ve never cared for mirrors enough
to keep that unnatural order.

he says, “my buddy told me about you.   he says you don’t talk
to anybody.”

I get up, take my papers three rows down and sixteen seats
over, I finally resort to my weakest self, take out my set
of red rubber earplugs, jam them in.
being my brother’s keeper would only narrow me down to a
rubber-walled place
where everything became the same.

I feel for the lonely, I sense their needs, but I also feel
that the other lonely are for them and that they should all
find each other and leave me alone.

so, plugs in, I miss the flag raising ceremony, being deep
into the Form anyhow

I would like to be human
if only they would let me

going to the track is like going elsewhere
only generally speaking
there are more of them, which doesn’t help, you know
they want to be there and I want to too.
so this democratic vote exists and we are this family
of death.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript