the cork thing

he had warned me:    he was coming to see me, he
was going to congratulate me, he was hitchhiking
1,000 miles to see me and he enclosed a photo,
there he was in a straw hat and I more than
disliked the face, it was smooth and bland, no-
thing much had occured to him in life, nothing
had congealed or focused, he had floated on
through like some cork thing, unblessed, un-
molested.
the letter had arrived addressed to me in care
of the city and had still gotten
through.
luckily there was a return address and I wrote
back, at once, NO VISITORS, using my
p.o. box as a return.

two weeks later I was sitting in the grandstand
at the racetrack, it was the 6th race and
somebody sat down two seats away.
“Mr. Bukowski,” I heard a voice.
I walked away, took the escalator down but
he was right behind me.
he spoke over my shoulder:    “do you live in
San Pedro?”

I turned at the escalator landing and faced
him.
the face was the face in the photo, straw hat
and all.
“get the fuck away from me,” I told him.

then I walked off into the crowd.

I played the 6th, 7th and 8th races, bought
my ticket for the 9th and walked to the
exit.

there he was waiting.

“I want to congratulate you,” he told me.

“I told you to stay the fuck away from me!”

he followed me down the steps as I walked
toward parking.

“I want you to drive me to San Pedro,”
he said.

I turned and faced him, “this is the last
time I’m telling you to stay the fuck
away from me!”

I already saw his bloody face, his
straw hat upsidedown on the
pavement.

he backed away and I walked through
parking toward my
car.

I shot a glance and saw him wandering
off through the parking
lot.

I got into my machine, started it
up, rolled up the windows for
fresh air and
drove out of
there.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1990
Source
Original manuscript