unloading the goods

it was after 8 hours as a stockboy
in a downtown department store
wearing a green smock
and pushing my wagon full of goods
through the aisles
listening to the complaints of the
neurotic and sexy sales girls
I came home to the place and she
was gone again.
I went down to the same bar
and there she was sitting.
she looked up and braced herself
and all the men moved away from
“take it easy now, Hank,” said
the barkeep.
I sat down next to her.
“how’s it going?” I asked.
“listen,” she said, “I haven’t
been here long.”
“I’ll have a beer,” I told the
“you can be any place you want
to be,” I told her.
I got my beer.
“this is a nice place,” I said.
“I don’t blame you.”
“what is it with you?” she asked.
“you’re acting crazy.”
I drank my beer slowly.
then I finished and walked out.
it was a perfect night.
I’d left her where I had found
even though her clothes were in
the closet and she would be back
it was ending,
I was making it end
and I went into the next bar
sat down and ordered a beer
knowing that what I once thought
would be hard
was easy
and I got the beer and drank it
and it tasted better than any
beer I had drunk in the two years
I had known her.

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript