The Overhead Mirrors

I wouldn’t say it was a particularly
low time
it was a time
and I adjusted spiritually to most
that is, not expecting much and not
getting much
there’s not too much to be
discouraged about,
but sickness is another matter.
I was living in a cheap court in
in between women
and I was buying coke from some
really low-grade crap
taking that
with beer and scotch.
I couldn’t eat.
it got so I just puked up
then ingested more coke, scotch
and beer.

one morning it really got to me,
I was trembling and having visions.
I couldn’t even drink water.
I was very thirsty but each glass of
water I drank
I puked up.
I was dying.

the only friends I had were a
nudey dancer and a guy who operated
a porno bookstore.
they came by.
“listen,   this is it,” I told them,
“I’m dying…”

“we’ll fix you up,” said the porno
bookstore guy who was the same slime
who was selling me the watered-down
coke.   the nudey dancer shaked with

he came back with some pepto-bismal,
“take this,” he said.
I did, then they left.

about 6 p.m. the phone rang.
I was in the gravest fit of death-depression
I picked up the phone.


it was the dealer-porno guy.


“listen, neither Babs or I are working
tonight, we’re going to a motel with one
of those overhead mirrors and x-rated
tv, we’re going to relax and fuck under
those mirrors, we like to watch…”


“so, I know you’re sick, so we’re going
to give you the phone number at our motel
room so you can call us in case of trouble…”


“got a pencil?”



he gave me the number.
I didn’t have a pencil. I
couldn’t move.

“thanks,” I said.

he hung up.

that was one of those nights you
remember, you know that if you don’t
fight death it will just move on in.
I had had one night like that
about two years earlier but this time
I was even weaker.
but I remembered from the other
and I got up at times and walked
around, turned the radio off and on,
flushed the toilet now and then, ran
the faucets in the place, shut them
off, turned lights on and off, rested
but not too long, sipped at water, puked
it up, took some coins out of my pocket
and counted them, 26, 27, 28 cents…
I kept repeating my acts over and
over, time seemed not to move, then
I noticed light coming in under the
blinds, it was morning arriving, day-
light arriving and when I saw that
I felt a little bit better
went to the bed
and slept
flat on my belly as

that night I was sitting on
my couch drinking a beer
and eating an egg sandwich.

my friends, the nudey and the
porno came by.

“how you feeling?”

“o.k., except it’s my last beer
and I’m broke.”

“shit, man, come on down
to our place, we got plenty of

I stayed on the beer except for
two vodka sevens and one little
yellow pill they gave me
and they had the stereo on
but not too loud
and I stayed
smoked two bombers
drank 18 or 19 beers
thanked them and
walked back on

in the morning I didn’t puke.
I got up, had a good crap,
took a lukewarm bath, dressed
and walked up to the corner
of Hollywood and Western
bought a Herald-Examiner
and walked back
feeling just about as
normal as

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript