today I walked in and took a seat at the end of the counter and
opened my newspaper and the man next to me saw me reading about
the Rams-Buccaneer game coming up.   “I’d like to see Tampa beat
the Rams,” he said.   I told the man that I always liked it when
the Rams lost but I couldn’t see them losing three straight,
then I gave my order to the waitress and then I turned to the
race results.   “I’m a good friend of Henry Moreno’s,” he said,
“he gives me tips.   you know he was a drunk for 5 or 6 years,
he’s all straightened out now.”   I told him that I had read that
in the papers. “I’m going to the races Sunday,” he said, “I’ve
got a hot tip.”   I told him I was trying to stay away from the
races today, that I was fighting to stay away, and then my order
came:   tuna fish sandwich.   “you remember 2 or 3 years ago?”
he asked, “they said swordfish had lead in them.   maybe it was
mercury.   I catch my own tuna and can them.   cost me 45 cents
a can to can my tuna, it’s a real rip-off.” his order came.
“look at that hamburger,” he said, “how the hell you gonna get
your mouth around that?”   “I’m not,” I told him.   he got quiet
with the mouthfuls and I turned to the front page.   “the market,”
I said before he could, “went up 35 points in one day.   how the
hell’s a man gonna figure on a thing like that?”   “the brokers
don’t know,” he answered, “the analysts don’t know, the investors
don’t know, nobody knows…”   “somebody must know,” I said.
“nobody knows,” he said.   “I mean,” I suggested, “somebody
somewhere must know… one guy, maybe…”   “nobody knows,” he

when he finished his sandwich he picked up his bill.   “well,
it was nice talking to you,” he said.   “sure,” I said, “take
it easy.”

people like that used to give me nervous fits and depressions
for four or five hours after meeting them.   now I act just like
they do.   it’s easy.

the waitress came up:   “care for another coffee?”   I told her
yes, that would be nice and as she walked away I looked at her
ass as if I were quite interested in it.   it’s best to keep acting
normal, to hide in the crowd and stay out of sight, and the best
way to hide is to act like everybody else.   she came back with the
coffee.   “care for a pie or something?” she asked.   I told her,
“naw, gotta keep the waistline down.”   she said, “ah, come on,
ya only live once…”   “o.k.,” I said, “I’ll take the blueberry
with a scoop of vanilla..”
as she walked away again I stared at her ass.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript
This poem appeared in the following books: