model

Wentworth worked as a model.
he got paid for it and he didn’t
look any different than
anybody else.

“put on your cap for Hank.   show
him how you pose as a sea
captain,” said Clara.

Clara was his woman.
I was with Jane.

we were drinking in their apartment,
a nice place.
we lived in a small room
just a few blocks away
behind in the rent.

we had brought along our own wine
and they were drinking it.
I was 40 pounds underweight and
going crazy.

Wentworth got his cap and then
he had it on.
it was blue and flopped just
right.
he stood in front of a full
length mirror and smiled.

I was being sued for a drunk
driving accident
had ulcers
and everytime I drank whiskey I
spit up blood.

“Wentworth,” I told him, “you look
dashing.”

why don’t they give us something to
eat? I thought.   can’t they see that
we’re starving?

Wentworth turned from the mirror
and looked at me, “modeling is a
good show.   what do you do?”

“Hank’s a writer,” Jane said.

Jane was a good girl:   she answered
questions for me.

“oh,” said Clara, “how fascinating!
how’s it going?”

“things are a little slow,” I
said.

Wentworth sat down and poured himself
a drink.

“wanna arm wrestle?” he asked me.

“o.k.,” I said, “I’ll try you.”

we bellied-up to the table, came to
grips, nodded, and he brought my arm
crashing to the table
like a marsh reed.

“well,” I said, “you were best that
time.”

“wanna try another?”

“not right off.”

“maybe I can get you into
modeling?”

“what as?   Mahatma Gandhi?”

“how many words you type a minute?”

“I’m into longhand right now.”

“what do you write about?”

“death.”

“death?   nobody wants to read about
that.”

“I think you’re right.”

the girls were talking to each other.
then Clara got up and went to the
bedroom.
she was there a while.
then she came out with her new hat
on.
she stood,
smiling.

“oh, Clara,” said Jane, “it’s
lovely!”

“women don’t wear hats anymore,” said
Clara, “but I just love hats!”

“you should, you look so dear!”

so there was Wentworth in his blue sea
captain’s cap and there was Clara in her
purple foxglove.

“wanna try another arm wrestle? asked
Wentworth, “we can go the best two out of
three.”

“just pour me a drink.”

“oh, sorry….”

the evening went on and we got to be good
friends, I suppose.
we sang some songs, sea songs among them
and Wentworth gave me a cigar.
I was proud of Jane anyhow.
she had a great little figure, just
right.
even when we didn’t eat for days I was
the only one who lost weight
which sometimes gave me the idea that
she was eating someplace else while I
was into my new longhand prose style.
it didn’t matter:   she deserved
food.

meanwhile
I bade off the arm wrestling and we
kept drinking our wine.
when it was gone
the evening was over.

I remember standing in their doorway
hugging this and that
saying
goodbye, yes, yes, it was a great
evening.

and then the door was closed and
there were the streets.
and we walked back toward our
room and Jane said, “look at that
moon!   doesn’t that moon look
wonderful?”
I couldn’t say it did so I
didn’t answer.

then we were in the hall of our
roominghouse and down to our door
and I took out the key and it was one
of those old fashioned keys–all one slim
neck with the little flag at the end
and I stuck it in and it bent and twisted
and the door wouldn’t open and the key
wouldn’t come out so I gave the door what
shoulder I had and it crashed open and
as it did some guy down the hall hollered
out:  “HEY, YOU GOD DAMNED DRUNKS, I GOT A
GOOD MIND TO SEND YOU DOWN THE RIVER IN A
SACK OF SHIT!”

it sounded like that big mouth came from
room 8.

I walked down to room 8 and
knocked.   “come on out,” I said, “I’ve got
something for you.”

there wasn’t any answer.

Jane was at my side.   “you’ve got the
wrong door.”

“I’ve got the right door,” I told her.
I BANGED on the son of a bitch.

“COME ON OUT, FUCKER!   I’LL KILL YOU!”

“it was room 9,” said jane.
“you got the wrong door.”

I walked down to 9 and BANGED, “COME ON
OUT, FUCKER, AND I’LL KILL YOU!”

“if you don’t go away,” I heard a voice
from inside, “I’m going to call the
police!”

“you chickenshit scum,” I said.

I walked down to our room and Jane
followed me.
she closed the door and I sat down
on the edge of the bed and pulled off
my shoes and stockings.

“your buddy in the sailor cap,” I
told her, “he gets on my
nerves.”