|sex alcohol and the post office
|The post office script was begun years ago in the
70’s when I first started reading Bukowski. He
wasnt Bukowski then. He was just another
suffering writing bastard like the rest of us. He was
publishing the books and there was even a
documentary but he wasnt yet the household name
he was soon to become.
I was running a business at the time and not
writing but the idea was always there, as it tends
to be, nagging.
Business has its cycles and there were these
periods with nothing going on and I would fart with
a story or essay or— in this case—the Bukowski
script. I worked at it off and on for a few years.
Time passed. Its 1994 and I packed it in business-
wise and took a year off to consider my next
move. I began to write, having nothing else to do,
a few of the essay/story type things. I returned to
the Bukowski script. Buk was dead, too bad, but
the Bukowski legend was beginning to roll—with a
vengeance. He was all over the place. The idea of
writing a script to go with the 2 movies that had
already been made--plus the documentary--
seemed a pointless act—more than usual even.
But I had time invested in this script and decided to
knock it off. I knocked it off and then did a smart
thing. I didnt send it on the usual miserable rounds
of agents and producers. I assigned it to the
bottom of the desk along with all the other
wretched scribblings where it remains to this day.
Too bad. But I still like it and now it turns out we
have the internet at our disposal and sparkling
websites like bflowriter.com to resurrect these
The film is a love story. The woman is Linda. There
were 2 loves in Bukowskis life: Linda and Betty.
Betty drank, Linda was cuckoo. She once picked up
a washing machine and threw it down a flight of
stairs. The scene that follows is the scene that
opens the film--that describes the first meeting.
(note: I am publishing the complete script in 2
installments. This is installment #1. for installment
#2 click link above)
|Small pad of the type known as furnished Hollywood
There are some people, dozen or so, of limited social
appeal, standing around drinking and squaking and
breaking each other up.
There is music--classical from the radio.
There is Chinaski, standing in the middle of the room
chewing on a stogie while sucking a beer while lending a
sympathetic ear to a guest.
GUEST: --and he dies and leaves me 15 grand. All of a
sudden she wants to get married and quit her job. All
right--why not? We get married and take off for Spain. I
have this idea for a play. We get to Spain and its great.
Im writing up a storm and doing some social drinking
and fucking some of the whores. Then this guy in London
calls up who has heard about my play and wants to put it
on. So I split for London. I come back and find out she
has been fucking the mayor and my best friend who are
two different people. I get drunk and say: YOU LOUSY
WHORE YOU BEEN FUCKING THE MAYOR AND MY BEST
FRIEND I AM GOING TO KILL YOU AND I WILL ONLY GET
TWO YEARS BECAUSE YOU ADULTERATED ME!
Proceeding to take the butcher knife which I raise over
my head and she is standing there showing no fear and
says: Go ahead cocksucker.
GUEST: Yeah. I couldnt do it. She had too much class on
A guy and woman join him. She is 28/30 with flaming red
hair and built--a fine low ass and a great face that
suggests a low bullshit threshold.
JOE: For a guy who doesnt like parties you sure throw a
lot of them.
CHINASKI: I dont throw parties. People come over.
Tonite I am sitting here sucking a beer enjoying a quiet
evening reading the metaphysical poets when Marvin the
rabbi decides to pay a visit. Then Howard the undertaker
shows up. He has a woman--a living one--so I let him in.
Then Joe the anarchist from Beverly Hills falls by. He
lays a couple stogies on me. And then this one calls up
and wants to come over and then that one calls up and
wants to come over and then you call up and want to
come over. It isnt a party.
JOE: I heard you were pretty good the other nite.
CHINASKI: Yeah--Im becoming a rock star.
JOE: I want you to write a column for the paper.
CHINASKI: A column--like Walter Lippman?
JOE: I already got a title: Notes of a Dirty Old Man.
CHINASKI (CHEWS THIS OVER): I like it.
JOE: Its a winner. Im real excited.
CHINASKI: What am I supposed to write about?
JOE: Anything you want. You write it--I print it.
CHINASKI: Carte Blanche, Joe--right?
JOE: Thats right. I think youre a fabulous writer.
CHINASKI: You might not think Im so fabulous once the
advertisers start canceling.
JOE: Dont worry about it. What did I start this paper for--
to print shit? Ill take care of the advertisers. All you got
to worry about is the column. When I say every week I
mean every week.
CHINASKI: What about bread?
JOE: You can have all the bread you want. But I cant
give you any money.
CHINASKI: Eat this.
JOE: Today is Wednesday. Write something Thursday.
Give it to me Friday. And read it in balls on Monday.
CHINASKI (CHEWS THIS OVER): Anything I want--you
JOE: Thats right.
CHINASKI: Youre on. Now whos this?
JOE: This is Linda. Lindas a fan of yours.
LINDA: I think you have a repulsive attitude towards
CHINASKI: It goes back to my childhood. I didnt get any
love. Now Im trying to make up for it.
LINDA: Have you ever seen a psychiatrist?
CHINASKI: No. I almost went once. But while I was
thinking about going I analyzed myself and saved the
They look at each other.
LINDA: What about this music. You like this?
CHINASKI: I like it.
LINDA: I like rock and roll.
They look at each other.
LINDA: I was at the reading. Youre very good up there.
CHINASKI: Thanks. Its a trick. The trick is to let them do
it for you. they are there mainly to see me eat my shit.
On the other hand you cant kiss their ass. Drunk and
wasted and fucked up as they are they paid to get in and
all it takes is one false word and they/ll run you right into
Someone at the door. Smashing at it with psychotic force.
Chinaski opens the door.
MAN: Hello Hank. Im Morse Jenkins. You dont answer
my letters so I came in person. I brought ya some wine.
This is Sadie. She works as a nurse. She supports me. I
sparred with Clay before he became Ali Hank. He was
good but I gave him a workout.
CHINASKI: Come on in Morse.
The party has thinned out. Its down to Chinaski and one
Chinaski is horizontal on the floor, belly up, puffing on a
stogie. His guest squats nearby, studying him intently.
Chinaski has his eye on a large jar on the floor filled with
fluid and what appears to be a human heart.
CHINASKI: Who are you man--and what the fuck is that
heart doing here?
WILBERT: Im Wilbert. Im a med student. Im going to be
your personal physician.
CHINASKI: Wilbert--get that fucking heart out of here!
WILBERT: The heart stays. Roll over.
WILBERT: Im giving you a physical. First--the old finger
He sticks up a finger, unrolls a small condum over it.
CHINAKSI: Wilbert--that isnt one of my problems.
WILBERT: Roll over!
CHINASKI: Wilbert--Doc--my only physical ailment is the
need for a good piece of ass.
WILBERT: Your backbone is out of place in 14 areas
Chinaski! That breeds tension, hostility, impotence and
Chinaski gets to his feet, takes a long drain from a bottle
of wine and with eyes driven shut howls into the night:
WHERE IS THAT FINE-ASSED REDHEADED BITCH!
The Post Office.
One of the neighborhood stations. Small grey bldg with
the flag out front, mail trucks parked in back, etc.
Miserable day featuring black sky and thrashing rain.
Inside Chinaski is at work casing mail. He and other
workers stand in front of tall bins filing mail into trays
according to zip code.
Chinask is hungover. He looks like shit.
BILL: Hank--you look terrible. I mean worse than usual.
BILL: You wanna aspirin?
CHINASKI: Id rather have a drink.
BILL: You are unbelievable. I have never seen a guy
drink the way you do. You are hungover every morning.
But you snap right back.
CHINASKI: I got sick once. It just busted wide open. I
was on this drunk for 3 weeks. I mean day and nite. I
never left the apt. Then something hit me--Ill never
forget it. I went into the can and started shitting not
turds but blood--by the quart--and of a nasty color--
black, black, black. The stink was unbelievable. I said:
oh my. They got me to the hospital and kept me there
for a couple of weeks until my bowel movements started
to appear in the form of a normal turd and then let me
go with some words of wisdom about the inadvisibility of
ever having another drink. I thought about this as I
walked along and then I passed a bar and stopped and
stood there thinking about going or not going in and I
went in. I sat down and ordered a beer and drank it and
then ordered another and drank that. And then ordered
another one and so on. But they say when those holes
grow back together its like welding. I also have this
dream that I am going to live exactly to the year 2000
when I will be 80 years old.
BILL: I got a new one Hank. She lives in Venice. She
gots these shelves over the bed with plants--geraniums.
When we fuck the shelves shake and the pots fall on my
back. THe first time it happened I screamed and she said
what and I said a pot of geraniums just fell on my back
and she said keep going--it adds to it. I had this other
once I met at a Halloween party. She was dressed like a
hooker and I was wearing this pig mask. We got totally
hammered and I took her home--driving right down
Vermont while still wearing this mask. We get to the apt
and have a drink and then she stands and strips and goes
into the bedroom. I undress and start to take off the
mask. She says: Dont take the mask off!
CHINASKI: Why dont these things happen to me?
A mailman walks up.
MAILMAN: Chinaski--Stone wants to see you in his office.
CHINASKI: What for?
MAILMAN: He didnt say. Its either to congratulate you
for something or write up up for something. Have you
done anything to be congratulated for?
MAILMAN: Then it must be the other.
Stone is behind his desk. Civil servant type with crew cut
and white shirt of pitiful fit and cheap tie. Leafing thru
papers with grim look.
STONE: I have some complaints here, Chinaski. Its the
usual--abstenteeism, insubordination, failure to observe
proper dress code, etc, etc, and a few others. Well get to
all this. But first--let me ask you a question. Do you like
working for the Post Office?
CHINASKI: I once had a job in a factory cleaning out the
inside of candy machines. I like it better than that.
STONE: Do you know Wilson, Chinaski?
CHINASKI: I know Wilson.
STONE: Wilson has never been in this office. He has
worked for the Post Office for 17 years and he has never
been in this office. He has missed work, a day here and
there due to illness or personal tragedy. But he always
takes the precaution of notifying the Post Office and
receiving the proper authorization. He comes to work on
time. In 17 years he has never been late. In addition he
comes to work properly dressed. His shoes are shined.
His shirt is ironed. His pants are pressed. His cap is
clean. His hair is combed. He has shaved. This attitude
towards his appearence is reflected in his work. He is
respectful towards his superiors. When casing mail
he stand erect; he doesnt slouch or prop himself up via
his stool. He doesnt engage in idle chatter with other
workers. Idle chatter is for breaks and lunch. He is there
to case mail. He cases mail. Do you see my point
CHINASKI: I see your point. Those are the guys who go
home at nite and have a 5 year old child wired to the
STONE: I have here 23 occurences of absenteeism,
ranging from a period of 2 hours to 3 days, all
unauthorized, between the dates of Feb 3 and April 17.
What do you have to say?
STONE: I have here a report from the Los Angeles Police
Dept that details a drunk and disorderly conduct charge
you were arrested and booked for on March 29.
STONE: I call you attention to section 7444.12 of the
postal code alluding to off-duty conduct of employees.
STONE: I have here a report filed by supervisor Garvey
charging you on several occasions of failing to case mail
within the prescribed period of time. According to the
postal code manual employees are expected to case a
tray of mail in 23 minutes. Garvey accuses you of taking
as long as 28 minutes to case a tray of mail. This is a
serious charge. When employees start taking 28 minutes
to case a tray of mail production falls behind. When
production falls behind the only way to catch up is via
overtime. Overtime means money.
CHINASKI: Here I have something to say.
STONE: What is it?
CHINASKI: That article in the manual doesnt mean
STONE: Why not? This is a time-tested method!
CHINASKI: I repeat: it means nothing. Those trays are 2
feet long. They are all two feet long. But they dont all
get the same amount of mail. Some trays get twice as
much mail as others; they get three times as much as
others. Most of the clerks grab the easy trays--the ones
they know they can stick in 23 minutes. I dont do that. I
take the mail like it comes. Somebody has to stick the
tough mail. But all you guys know is what it says in the
manual: 23 minutes.
STONE: Its time-tested!
CHINASKI: Let me ask you a question. Suppose I get a
real easy tray. There are trays you can stick in 8
minutes. Suppose I get one of these trays and stick it in
8 minutes. According to the time tested method I have
saved the post office 15 minutes. My question is this: can
I take those 15 minutes and go down to the cafeteria and
STONE: Of course not! Absolutely not! You are supposed
to grab another tray and start sticking mail immediately!
Chinaski is writing.He does this in the kitchen. The table
has been cleared,that is miscellaneous items such as salt
and pepper shaker, sugar bowl, soiled plates and cups,
the mail, racing form and many tall empties of Rainier
Ale have been forearmed aside to clear a space for the
He types while puffing on a stogie while taking frequent
hits from a tall Rainier Ale.
This is a happy man.
He gets up for a fresh beer.
Someone at the door with a finger on the bell.
Chinaski with a grim look.
CHINASKI: Who is it?
WOMAN: Its Linda.
He thinks, then his eyes light up and he goes to the door.
LINDA: Hi Hank.
CHINASKI: Come in.
LINDA: Youre working.
CHINASKI: Its OK.Sit down. Care for a beer? I also got
wine, vodka, bourbon and creme de menthe.
LINDA: I/ll have wine.
He pours a wine, brings it over, sits in a chair facing her.
CHINASK: This is great!
LINDA: Well I was passing by and first I said yes and
then I said no and then I said yes and then no and then
what the fuck.
He sits looking at her.
She looks the place over.
LINDA: Hank--how can you live like this?
CHINASKI: Like what?
LINDA: Like this.
CHINASKI: I like it.
LINDA: Its a dump.
CHINASKI: It looks better with you in it.
She gives him a sweet look.
LINDA: How old are you?
LINDA: I think its a shame that for someone who writes
as well as you you dont know a thing about women.
CHINASKI: This is true.
LINDA: Have you ever been in love?
LINDA: What happened?
CHINASKI: The situation was this: I was a drunk and so
was she. It was the two of us against the bottle. The
LINDA: Why do you drink so much?
CHINASKI: I drink for 3 reasons. I drink if something
good happens--to celebrate. I drink if something bad
happens--to forget. And I drink if nothing happens--to
make something happen.
LINDA: How did you become a writer?
CHINASKI: I became a writer in Philadelphia. It was
during the war. I was 23. I dont know what I was doing
in Philadelphia but there I was. I had managed to evade
the draft in order to concentrate full time on my
drinking. Thats what I was doing in Philadelphia. I was in
this bar sitting next to a very good looking woman.
I offered to buy her a drink and she accepted. She had
that and ordered another. I wondered what such a fine
looking broad was doing all by herself in this bar. I was
about to find out. I got up to play something on the
jukebox. While standing in front of the jukebox the
bartender came up and said: lay off the broad. Thats the
bosses girl. And see those two guys over there? Those
are the bosses boys. I looked over at two punks in dark
suits sitting at a table. The barkeep said: you could get
yourself killed. That is the exact word he used. Well I
was 23 and a little crazy and one of the things I did not
respond to at the time was people telling me what I
ought or ought not to do. I played some music and went
back to the bar and sat down next to the woman and
ordered another round. We had more drinks and then I
went to take a leak. The can was downstairs in the
basement. I remember thinking this was odd. In the can
I am joined by the two punks in the dark suits. I
unzipped and started to leak and they hit me over the
head with a blackjack. There were lights and flashes but
I was drunk and it wasnt too bad. I stayed on my feet
and finished the leak and zipped up and washed my
hands. I returned to my seat at the bar and ordered
another round. The two guys came back up. I ordered a
round for them. I took my handkerchief out and applied
it to the back of my head which had started to bleed. I
killed another hour or so drinking and talking to the lady
and tending to the back of my head and playing the
jukebox and then I got up and left. I went back to my
room and got in bed and woke up the next morning with
a splitting headache. I thought about the nite before in
the bar and some other incidents of similar nature and
decided to write a short story. I didnt sell the story and I
couldnt comb my hair for 2 months but thats how I
became a writer. More wine?
LINDA: No. I have to go.
CHINASKI: Will I see you again?
He reaches for her and tries a kiss.
LINDA: Easy Hank.
CHINASKI: You/ve got it babe. I dont know what it is but
you got it.
LINDA: You have something too--Im a little afraid of it.
Actually a pad not much different from Chinaskis in the
way of size and scheme but with many little cozy touches
such as paint and plants and prints, etc, and an inviting
absence of dirt and crud.
In the kitchen.
Chinaski in a chair with Linda nearby standing at the table
working on a sculpture of his head.
LINDA: Sit still! Do you want a drink?
She gets a drink.
Linda slashing away at the head.
LINDA: I had a dream about you last night. I opened
your chest like a cabinet. It had doors and when I
opened the doors I saw all sorts of soft things inside--
teddy bears, tiny fuzzy animals, all these soft cuddly
CHINASKI: I like it.
LINDA: When was the last time you had a woman?
CHINASKI: It was either 2, or 4, years ago.
LINDA: What about all these parties--and the women at
CHINASKI: They only love me for my mind. I cant figure
LINDA: God--Id go mad. Im horny all the time.I
masturbate but it doesnt do any good.
CHINASKI: Sex is over-rated. Its much less important
than excretion. A man can go 70 years without a piece of
ass but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.
She continues to work.
CHINASKI: This is nice Linda. Its like being on vacation.
LINDA: What are you doing working at the Post Office?
CHINASKI: You got me.
LINDA: Do you like it?
CHINASKI: Its OK if you want to die before they actually
LINDA: I hear dogs are a big problem.
CHINASKI: You hear true.
LINDA: Dont they give you cans of mace or something?
CHINASKI: The mace is for the people.
LINDA: What made you go to work there?
CHINASKI: A woman. An old girlfriend. We were sitting
around the pad one night drinking while trying to figure
out where the next months rent was coming from and it
occurred to us that it wasn’t coming from anywhere. I
had just been fired from my tenth or twelfth straight job
as an auto parts clerk and she had just come down with
her second or third straight dose of clap from some
casual tricks she was turning at the time. sO we had
another drink and she suddenly sat straight up and said:
the Post Office! I said: yes, its on Sixth and Harvard. She
said: you could get a job at the post office. I thought that
was pretty funny. I said: baby, the post office is for
spades. She said it isnt for spades. She had a girlfriend
who had a boyfriend who did it and said it was
great--$8.25 an hour plus benefits, etc, etc. Plus they
were hiring. It was Christmas and they were putting on
all these subs. Well I thought about it and I figured my
lifelong ambition of making it as an opera singer was not
materializing as planned and meanwhile there was this
continuous pressing need for food and drink and a roof
over the old head not to mention my girlfriends penecillin
shots. So I went down the next day with my usual
roaring hangover and filled out an application while
failing to mention various drunk driving raps and other
misdemeanors and was hired on the spot and told to
report back at 6AM the following morn. But I/ll tell you
something. Aside from the dogs--and a few people who
should have been on a leash as well--it wasnt bad. I
mean it was soft. Plus you occasionally got laid which
never happened at the auto parts house.
He sits while she sculpts away.
She breaks off and stands back and studies the head
LINDA: Im starting to like it. I dont think of you as really
In the bedroom.
Chinaski is on the bed face down with his shirt off.
Linda astride him doing something to his back--squeezing
LINDA: This is a nice one!
A huge pimple swollen with pus fills up the screen and
then splatters as she punctures it with a fingernail.
LINDA: Jesus--it got me in the eye! Heres another!
She splatters it with her fingernail.
CHINASKI: Having fun?
LINDA: Mmm--its my vice.
CHINASKI: I think its mine too. Im getting an erection.
She continues splattering pimples.
CHINASKI: Linda--I love you.
She splatters pimples.
CHINASKI: Its the only explanation. I feel so great!
LINDA: And when you feel great you take another drink.
She splatters a pimple.
LINDA: Let me ask you something. Have you ever eaten
LINDA: Youre 52 years old and you have never eaten
LINDA: Why not?
CHINASKI: I dont know.
LINDA: For a man to interest me he has to eat my pussy.
CHINASKI: I/ll do it.
LINDA: No--its too late. You cant teach an old dog new
CHINASKI: Let me try.
She continues splattering pimples.
Now she gets up and leaves the room and returns with a
drawing pad and pencil.
She sits on the edge of the bed and begins to sketch.
LINDA: Look at this. This is a cunt. And this little thing
right here is a clit. You know what that is--right?
LINDA: The clit is similar in some ways to a mans cock.
Its sensitive and becomes erect when stimulated. On the
other hand its not six inches long. YOu have to actively
look for it and play with it and coax it a little. You do this
with your tongue. That is the point of eating pussy: to
locate the clit and manipulate it orally in imaginative
fashion for the purpose of arousing ecstacy.
CHINASKI: I got it.
She gives him a skeptical look.
LINDA: All right--youre on.
She stand and strips. Off comes the sweater and levis
and panties beneath. She stands beside the bed in a
dramatic pose with her hips cocked and this cinnamon
bush fluttering in his chops.
He moans and stands and strips to display a flaming rod
and drops to his knees and grips her by the ass and
puckers up and buries his face in her crotch.
She lays on the bed. He on his knees next to the bed
with her legs scissoring his head.
LINDA: You cant do it. Blood and pee come out of there.
Think of it: blood and pee.
He has her pussy spread with two fingers looking for the
CHINASKI: I see it. Is this it?
He licks at it with his tongue.
LINDA: Yes. Good. Not so fast.
She moans and groans.
He continues to suck.
She moans and groans.
He continues to suck.
He gets up and scrambles on top.
She grabs him and guides it in.
LINDA: Listen--dont come inside me.
He takes two or three strokes and comes inside her.
He lays there breathing hard.
LINDA: Wait a minute. What the fuck...did you come
inside me? Bastard!
She gives a furious shove and pitches him from the bed.
She leaps from the bed.
LINDA: Son of a bitch! You came inside me!
CHINASKI: Baby--Im sorry. Its been so long...I couldnt
She storms into the bathroom, starts splashing water.
LINDA: Thats like high school shit--ya know?
He reaches for her.
LINDA: Hands off!
CHINASKI: Baby--it felt so good.
LINDA: This is classic--knocked up by a 50 year old
Chinaski having a drink at the bar.
He has his form out, and his card, pencil in hand jotting
notes, looking up from time to time to check the odds on
A crowd forms in front of the monitor. Chinaski stays at
the bar, sipping his drink, continuing to work over his
The announcer calls the race.
Chinaski watches the race closely without emotion, tho
he tenses visibly in the stretch. He signals the barkeep
for a re-fill and reaches into his pocket and takes out
several tickets which he destroys and drops to the
Goes back to work on his card.
The track bar.
Again Chinaski watches from the bar. Again he watches
without emotion, but this time turns away as the horses
come into the stretch and signals the barkeep for a re-fill
and reaches into his coat pocket and takes out several
tickets which he destroys and drops to the ground and
goes back to work on his card.
The track bar.
Chinaski at the bar drinking.
Barkeep comes over.
BARKEEP: Hank--not even a saver?
CHINASKI: I had a saver. He finished behind the 10-1
The barkeep pours a drink.
BARKEEP: This ones on me.
CHINASKI: Thansk Pete. To ya.
He gestures with his drink towards the grandstand.
CHINASKI: The track crowd. What a crew. Freud said
that gambling is a substitute for masturbation. It was
either Freud or somebody else. And he was right. Look
at these bananas: they jerk off and they are jerkoffs.
They get burned and they get burned and they get
burned again. But they keep coming back. Why? Because
they are jerkoffs. Its the nature of the beast. No matter
how little they have they will settle for less. You cant
beat the horses. Everybody knows that. I cant beat the
horses and I have been trying for 25 years. I know as
much as it is possible to know about the science and art
of horseracing. I know the horses, I know the jocks, I
know the trainers, the stables, the track, etc, etc. I
understand the psychology of horseracing. By that I
mean the ability to make subtle observations that
frequently contradict the morning line. I cant tell you
what these are because that would make me a fool. But
I cant beat the horses. Even with this vast expertise and
years of experience and hard study and idle
contemplation--and my devastating psychological
instincts--I cant beat the horses. YOU CANT BEAT THE
The barkeep digests this wisdom as a young guy walks
by and flicks a casual glance. He stops.
YOUNG GUY: Henry Chinaski!
Chinaski says nothing.
YOUNG GUY: Am I right? Im right.
CHINASKI: Youre right.
YOUNG GUY: This is fantastic. I just finished reading your
book--All The Assholes in the World and Mine. I mean I
finished it last nite. This girl gave it to me. Its a funny
book, man. I laffed my ass off. Ha ha. That poem about
the 2 whores and the chickens. Ha ha. And those poems
about the track. Ha ha. I didnt know poets wrote about
the track. So I read the book and today as I am in my
car driving to the track I said to myself: I wonder if I/ll
see Chinaski at the track. Ha ha. This is a big thrill.
The kid turns to the barkeep who has been
eavesdropping on this conversation.
YOUNG GUY: This guy is a great poet!
Chinaski rolls his eyes.
CHINASKI: Listen kid--
YOUNG GUY: Can I buy you a drink?
CHINASKI: Kid--whats your name?
YOUNG GUY: Sam.
CHINASKI: Listen Sam--I dont mean to be rude and
ordinarily I would enjoy having a drink and talking about
poetry but its the seventh race and I am getting
murdered and I would just like to get back to my card
and try to get some of that money back. Dont take it
SAM: I understand. Who do you like in the seventh race?
CHINASKI: Mothers mistake. Its a lock.
Linda is there, reading on the couch.
Chinaski enters. He looks like shit.
He says nothing, goes to the kitchen, makes a drink,
returns, switches on the radio which erupts with an
earsplitting blast of rock and roll. He spins the knob,
tunes the set to a classical station. Goes to the couch and
sits down. Sucks at his drink.
LINDA: How much?
CHINASKI: Dont ask.
LINDA: How much?
CHINASKI: The first race I bet Dont Tell Mom because
he won for me last week. I lost. The second race I bet
Weekend Wonder because he had Tyler up and I liked
the odds.I lost. The third race I bet Gary Guitar because
he had a morning line of 12-1 and closed at 7-5 and
there could be no way for this to happen unless the fix
was in. I lost. In the fourth race I bet Italian Pastry
because he had some weight off because he had lost his
last three races because they wanted him to so he could
get some weight off for this race which featured a
$150,000 purse. I lost. In the 5th race I bet One Nite
Stand because I am a sucker for a fast horse in a six
I didnt bet the 6th race.
I blew the seventh race--Mothers Mistake.
In the eighth race I bet Vino Tinto because a little jap
ahead of me in the ticket line told me to. I also had $40
win on the favorite as a saver. I lost that one.
In the ninth race I bet On My Word--$200 on the nose.
He was going off at 4-5. I ordinarily dont bet horses that
are going off at 4-5 but I was desperate. Plus it was a
foolproof bet. He loves to run, the track was in perfect
shape, he had Pincay up and hes won 8 of his last 9
races. Now hes won 8 of his last 10.
And that is how I blew $500 at the track.
CHINASKI: I am ready for the track shrink. I was ready
20 years ago. It doesnt make sense. A grown man
letting himself get the shit kicked out of him by the
California State Racing Commission. I dont mind getting
beat if I am getting beat fair and square. Or even if its
not so fair and square. I figure my superior brain and
natural ability as a hustler can overcome a little larceny
on the part of the track establishment. Thats what
happened in the third race. I saw the fix was in and
placed my bet accordingly. What I didnt know was that
there was another fix in in addition to that fix. The same
thing happened in the seventh race. The one I bet
because the little jap in front of me said to. That was a
good bet. Plus I had the $ 40 win on Jillys Juice as a
saver. I lost both bets because they ran a 19-1 shot past
me--Buda Red. I know that horse. That fucking beast
couldnt win a race if it was running downhill and the
other horses were running uphill. This is what I object to:
GETTING BEAT WHEN I HAVE MADE THE RIGHT PLAY!
CHINASKI: Something came over me. I dont know what.
I lost my cool. Ordinarily I dont do that. Im a pro. The
definition of a pro is a guy who knows when to quit. He
takes a small or medium loss and feels a larger one on
the way and gets the hell out. I didnt do that. I stayed to
take the larger loss. And the more I lost the more I bet.
I bet like the atomic bomb was on the way. I wanted to
win ten grand.
They sit silently.
She moves close and comforts him.
Gets up and fixes him a fresh drink.
LINDA: You got some mail--a letter from Marionetti.
He opens the letter, starts to read.
I have been reading some of these stories--which are
great.I definitely want to do a book. I think it would
work better if the stuff was somehow connected so that it
read more like a novel. I think this can be done pretty
easily via some small changes and the addition of new
material. Basically the development of some continuity
via a couple of the main characters who keep re-
appearing. You know what I mean. I like that form
myself and think I would like to try it with your book. Let
me know what you think.
The poetry book is moving--slowly. But it is moving. I
think eventually there will be a second printing. For a
poetry book that is a big thing.You are starting to aquire
a legitimate underground rep of a particularly hot kind
which I personally think is going to pay off big in the not
too distant future. Meaning big bucks for you and yours
truly. In that regard I would like to do another reading
soon. Im thinking around mid-March. This time I want to
do it at a bigger place. Maybe the SF Museum of Fine
Arts. Spend some bread on advertising and see what
happens. I can give you $400 against your share of the
I just got back from a trip. Spent a few days in London
and also paid a visit to Bill Franklin in Tangiers. He is
the same--still writing, still drinking, still fucking young
boys. He reminds me in some ways of you--I mean
there is no front. You get it all straight--the good and the
Not much else. I have a new girlfriend. I think this is
something for which there is no cure that will be with me
until I die. Her name is--get this--Joy. She is 20--very
sweet, very built, very horny.I am 49--very
ballbreaking, very ugly, very horny. I dont deserve this
girl. I know that. She knows it. She doesnt care. She
just wants to fuck.
My best, see you soon, Charles.
LINDA: Thats great--400 bucks!
CHINASKI: I would rather win at the track.
LINDA: What about dinner. You wanna go out?
CHINASKI: I dont eat. You know that.
LINDA: I wanna eat out. I wanna eat a big steak. We will
go out and eat and drink some wine, you can smoke a
cigar, then we will come back here and go to bed and
He gives her a sweet look.
CHINASKI: Youre good to me baby. Why?
LINDA: Because I love you, old man.
The post office.
Inside Chinaski is at work casing mail. Next to him is
Battles casing mail with great speed and flair, fanning the
CHINASKI: How d'ya do that?
BATTLES: Its easy after 20 years.
They stand there casing mail.
Battles begins to whistle--the theme from Around the
World in 80 Days.
Chinaski with a grim look.
CHINASKI: You carrying 23?
BATTLES: Thats right.
CHINASKI: I had that route. There was a guy--I think he
lived on Arlington. The Man Who Holds His Hand Out For
The Mail. I would come to his house and he would be
standing there beside the box. You had to hand him the
mail. He didnt want it in the box. The box was a no no. I
used to ask the neighbors: whats with the guy who holds
his hand out for the mail? I worked that route for two
years and not once did this guy miss a delivery. But one
day I decided to break his balls. I am walking up the
street and there he is about halfway up the block from
his house talking to a neighbor. He sees me coming. I
am about a block from the house. He continues talking to
his neighbor. I hit a few more houses. He is still talking
to his neighbor. Now I start running towards his house. I
am sprinting like a track star. I get to the box and slip
the mail halfway in. He is screaming: DONT PUT THE
MAIL IN THE BOX! I dont put the mail in. I withdraw it
from the box. He runs up. He is in a delerious state. I
hand him the mail. What do you think?
BATTLES: There is no way to figure these people.
They case mail.
BATTLES: By the way--they got a new rule. No more
hats on top of the case.
CHINASKI: Come again?
BATTLES: No more hats on top of the case. Like the way
you got your hat on top of the case.
CHINASKI: I dont get it.
BATTLES: They want them in the locker instead.
CHINASKI: Battles--let me say something. I have been
working for the Post Office for 12 years. I dont have a
dime more in my pocket now then I did then. All I got to
show for my 12 years at the Post Office is a huge ass
from sitting on this stool casing mail--also this belly.
When I first came to the Post Office I weighed 185. Now
I weigh 225--all belly and ass. My body has turned to
shit--along with my brain. All courtesy of the Post Office.
What has this got to do with the new regulation about
the hats on top of the case? I dont know. Maybe nothing.
What I am saying is this: after 12 years sitting on this
stool watching my brain and body turn to shit I dont give
one. Do you follow me?
They case mail.
Stone walks up. He stands behind Chinaski. Watches him
Chinaski turns around.
STONE: We got a new rule.
CHINASKI: I heard.
STONE: No more hats on top of the case. They go in the
CHINASKI: I said I heard.
He continues to case mail.
STONE: I want that hat in your locker Chinaski.
CHINASKI: I/ll do it later.
STONE: I want it done now.
CHINASKI: I said I/ll do it. Id like to finish casing this
He has his clipboard and proceeds to fill out a write-up.
He tears it off and hands it to Chinaski. Chinaski puts it in
STONE: Read it Chinaski.
CHINASKI: I know what it says.
STONE: You have to read it. If you dont read it I am
giving you a second write-up for not reading the first
CHINASKI: Go ahead.
Stone does so.
Chinaski takes the second write-up and crumples it and
drops it into the waste basket.
Stone fills out a third write-up. he gives it to Chinaski.
Into the wastebasket.
CHINASKI: Look Stone--I can throw these away as fast
as you can fill them out. We can do it all day long. Its up
to you. Meanwhile the mail is still waiting to be delivered.
BATTLES: Man--you ought to smarten up. The guy is an
asshole. He was born an asshole, he lives as an asshole
and he will die as an asshole. Dont you have enough
asshole people of similar persuasion to deal with on your
route. Put the fucking hat in the locker.
In a ward with many beds.
Chinaski stands beside one looking down at a woman.
She is not young, Chinaskis age or more. She looks
small lying there in bed and quite sick.
The woman stirs.
She opens her eyes. Looks at Chinaski. Does not
immediately recognize him. Then she smiles and tries to
speak. Her voice is weak.
BETTY: I knew it would be you.
He sits beside the bed and takes her hand.
CHINASKI: How do you feel?
BETTY: I could stand a drink.
BETTY: Im going to die, Hank.
CHINASKI: Thats a stupid thing to say.
BETTY: I/ll never leave this place.
He gives her a sad look.
BETTY: You still at the Post Office?
BETTY: My hero--the mailman.
CHINASKI: Yeah. Its not exactly what I started out to
be. What did I start out to be?
BETTY: You started out to be a bum.
CHINASKI: Right. I almost forgot.
BETTY: Are you still writing?
CHINASKI: Yeah. Thats been going good. At least I am
getting published. And I pick up a few bucks here and
there at these readings. Its insane. They pay to watch
me drink beer.
BETTY: You got a girlfriend?
CHINASKI: I got a girlfriend. Dont ask me how.
BETTY: Is she young?
CHINASKI: Shes 30. I must be nuts. Or she is nuts.
BETTY: No. Youre something special Hank. I always felt
that. You were always all there. Most guys are only 10%
there. Sometimes 20% But you were all there. I never
met a guy like you. And I met a lot of guys.
CHINASKI: This is true.
BETTY: Hank--remember the time we were shacked in
that Hotel on Alvarado St and you woke up one morning
with the crabs--and you accused me of giving them to
CHINASKI: You did give them to me.
BETTY: Then you went out and bought some shit at the
drugstore and came back to the room and read the
instructions which said to apply and wait for 30 minutes
and then wash off--and you said: I am going to give this
shit an hour. I am going to disintegrate these
motherfuckers! So you kept the stuff on for an hour--and
it burned the hair right off your balls! You had this bright
red rash over your belly and balls and down your legs.
You looked like an orangutang.
CHINASK: I remember that. I also remember the time
we were so broke we were eating pancakes 3 times a
day. Except they werent really pancakes--they were
flour and water. And we didnt have any butter to fry
them so we made em dry. They came out real crisp. I
also remember the time--I think it was the same time
we were eating the pancakes 3 times a day--that I tried
to kill myself. I woke up that morning, drank some port
and fried a few pancakes and looked out the window and
said: I think I/ll kill myself today. I decided to do it by
sticking my head in the oven. But first I would enjoy the
day. I strolled over to the park and watched the bums
for a while and then hit the liquor store where I was able
to beard whatever that guys name was for a last pint--as
a sort of parting gesture. I also bought a paper. That was
strange because I never read the paper. But something
made me buy that paper. I wanted to go out up on all
my current events. So I am walking back to the hotel to
drink my pint and I am reading the paper and there on
the front page is this headline: Milton Berle's Cousin Hit
on Head by Falling Rock. I was stunned. I mean it was
the LA Times. And this is the headline: Milton Berle"s
Cousin Hit on Head by Falling Rock. He wasnt killed--He
had his head mildly split open by this rock. And at that
moment I knew I couldnt kill myself. If I was going to
kill myself it would have to be for a far better world than
one in which Milton Berles cousin finds himself on the
front page of the Times for being hit on the head by a
BETTY: Im glad youre making it Hank. You deserve it.
CHINASKI: Betty--dont get down. You/ll get out of this
place. But you have to take care of yourself.
There is a coffin and some flowers. Two workers stand
Chinaski walks up. He is wearing a suit and tie.
A woman appears. She is 38/40--neighborhood bar type
but not bad, stylish in her way--good legs.
She goes to Chinaski.
WOMAN: Are you Hank?
WOMAN: Im Delia.
CHINASKI: She had two kids. Where are they?
DELIA: I think this is it. I called a priest. He didnt want
to do this. There was some question about her religion.
Finally I talked him into it. He said he would do half a
CHINASKI: Half a funeral?
DELIA: Thats what he said.
DELIA: She told me a lot about you.
CHINASKI: She was something else. I never met anyone
like her. And I met her in a bar. We had unbelievably
great times--all of which transpired while drunk.
She was beautiful and wild--out of control. She was
partly insane. No one could handle her. I was told this by
informed sources. I ignored it. I was different. I would
be the one to straighten her out. And I tried. But it was
no dice. She was in a world of her own. When you got
right down to it she just didnt give a shit.
The priest arrives. He has long hair, in need of combing,
and could stand a shave. He looks a little drunk.
PRIEST: Is this the family?
PRIEST: I/ll begin.
He reads from notes:
Lord--this is Betty. I know of her what her friend Delia
has told me. She was an unusual woman. She was
smart, she was funny, she was kind. She was a good
friend. She was loyal and generous. You could put the
arm on her for a small loan. She made you feel good.
This is rare.
She had her failings. She was indulgent. She was lazy.
She couldnt hold a job. She had a quick temper and got
into fights. She had a filthy tongue. She also liked to
drink. This is what killed her. Its sad.
That was Betty. She had her good side and bad side. But
I think when you add them up it was the good side that
prevails. For this reason I ask you to show mercy.
He pockets his notes. Nods to Chinaski and Delia and
CHINASKI: That wasnt bad--for half a funeral. Thanks for
CHINASKI: Im going to the track. I always go to the
track after a funeral. You wanna come with?
DELIA: I gotta work.
CHINASKI: That would never have stopped Betty.
Chinaski is alone at the bar doping out the form.
He looks up and sees a woman--tall negress of mixed
CHINASKI: Vi baby.
VI: Hank--youre not working.
CHINASKI: Nor you.
VI: I took the day off.
CHINASKI: Wanna drink?
He orders a round.
CHINASKI: How you doing?
VI: Im losing. How you doing?
CHINASKI: Not bad. I just came from a funeral. My third
in two years. I went to the track after the other two and
won both times. If I could go to a funeral every day Id
be a rich man.
VI: I heard you were a pretty good horseplayer.
CHINASKI: You heard true Vi.
VI: Im picking Daddys Delight in the fifth race.
CHINASKI: Try Fortunes Curse.
VI: Fortunes Curse is 8-1 and theres a reason: hes a
CHINASKI: No Vi. Fortunes Curse is the bet. Let me
explain. The first rule in The Henry Chinaski Guide to
Handicapping is this: you look for the non-public horse
who can beat the favorite. By non-public I mean the
horse that seems a poor or illogical choice. That is the
point. We all know that logic does not apply to
horseracing. Knowing this the public insists on applying
prodigious amounts. Therefore they go home broke. Now
it may happen that in examining the form you fail to
come up with this so called non-public horse. In that case
you bet the favorite. The reason I am betting Fortunes
Curse is that in his last race he went off at 35-1 and lost
by a neck to Dons Dilemma when he blew a two length
lead down the stretch. Dons Dilemma was a 9-2 shot. So
naturally the crowd figures if Fortunes Curse couldnt beat
Dons Dilemma in a mile how is he going to beat him in a
mile and a sixteenth. Good thinking. But they are
choosing to ignore the fact that that Dons Dilemma is
adding 2 pounds and that Fortunes Curse has a better
jock--tho unpopular. The trainers are smart. They enter
their horses in what seem unfavorable conditions in
order to keep large sums of money off the horse. Check
the board. Fortunes Curse is 7-1. The morning line was 5-
1. He/ll go off at 8 or 9-1. It all adds up. I may not win
but I will get a good run for my money. That is the
second rule in the Henry Chinaski Guide to
Handicapping: make them beat you.
VI: You got a good line Hank. Im going with Daddys
CHINASKI: Lets grab this race.
In the grandstand.
Fortunes Curse takes the lead out of the gate and moves
to the rail, running easily. Holds the lead around the
turn. Now at the top of the stretch the jock goes to the
whip. He opens up the lead. He eases up. The pack
closes. Now he lets it out and opens a 4 length lead.
VI: Its too soon. He will never make it down the stretch.
CHINASKI: Watch baby.
Into the stretch. The jock on Dons Dilemma goes to the
whip. Dons Dilemma moves up. The jock whipping hard.
Dons Dilemma closing fast, eating up the lengths. Now
the jock on Fortunes Curse goes to the whip. Down the
stretch. They are neck and neck. The jock on Dons
Dilemma whipping hard. Dons Dilemma fades at the wire
and its Fortunes Curse by a nose. Daddys Delight finishes
VI: Son of a bitch.
She gives Chinaski a filthy look.
CHINASKI: I tell you baby I am hell coming out of
Its dust free and tastefully furnished in complementary
colors with accents to provide fill.
CHINASKI: My apt doesnt look like this.
VI: I/ll bet. You wanna drink?
He picks up a foto off the table.
CHINASKI: Youre daughter?
CHINASKI: Very sweet Vi. You divorced?
VI: Yeah. He was a bum. All he did was drink and play
She gives him his drink.
VI: You were hot today.
CHINASKI: Yeah. I had a streak going at Del Mar once.
I/ll never forget it. It was uncanny. I could not lose. I
won ten grand in 3 months. I had a room at the beach. It
was nothing but Chivas Regal and steak every nite. The
women were coming at me like flies.
VI: So what happened?
CHINASKI: I lost it all back and then some and went to
work at the Post Office.
VI: You got a girl now?
CHINASKI: Yeah. It dont add up Vi. Shes a fox. She has
a good job, a high IQ and a complete set of hormones
properly sorted out and going full blast. She could have
any guy she wants.
VI: It adds up. Young guys are boring. Too much ego.
Old guys like you dont have that ego problem. They get
some of that young action on their hands they appreciate
it. With a old guy like you shes the boss. Youre pussy-
whipped. Its simple.
In the bedroom.
Chinaski in bed with Vi on top.
He has a good grip on her ass while she grinds
Vi grinding while Chinaski with eyes closed to focus on
the task at hand.
They roll over with him on top.
He grinds away.
They roll over with Vi on top.
She boosts the tempo.
VI: Make it baby!
Chinaski with eyes closed trying to make it.
Vi grinding away.
CHINASKI: Vi--its no dice.
CHINASKI: Too much booze.
She rolls off.
They lay there.
CHINASKI: Sorry Vi. Its not you.
VI: Sex and liquor dont mix. And no woman likes to
come in second to a bottle.
She is reading on the couch.
She looks up.
LINDA: Where were you last nite?
CHINASKI: I went to the track.
LINDA: You could have called me.
CHINASKI: I did call you. Twice. You were having one of
your marathon phone conversations.
LINDA: What time did you get back?
CHINASKI: Late. I ran into a guy from the PO and we
had a few drinks.
CHINASKI: Linda--are you my mother? Whats the beef?
LINDA: You were with a woman.
CHINASKI: Why do you say this?
LINDA: Because I know you. And I particularly know you
when you are lying. You are lying.
They exchange looks that indicate that he knows that she
knows that he knows that she knows he is lying.
CHINASKI: Im getting a drink. You want one?
He goes to the kitchen, makes a drink, returns to the
Sits on the couch.
CHINASKI: Now I am going to open the racing form and
make some rough calculations for about 20 minutes max.
LINDA: Dont do it.
CHINASKI: OK Linda. Im going to tell you what
happened--right down to the last incredibly erotic detail.
I go to the funeral to bury Betty--who I loved almost as
much as I love you and then I went out to the track. At
the track I run into Vi from the PO. Vi is 42. Shes
divorced with a 14 year old kid. We have a drink and
catch a few races and I give her a few tips and she wins
some money which got her horny. She invites me to her
apt for dinner. This is when I called you and got a busy
signal for 45 minutes. So we go to the apt and she feeds
me drinks and dinner and then more drinks and one
thing leads to another and we wind up in bed. Then a
funny thing happened. I couldnt get it up. Too much
LINDA: I/ll buy that part.
CHINASKI: And that was my nite with Vi. It meant
nothing to me and even less to her. Now can I read the
He cracks the form.
She sits giving him a filthy look.
Soon he is engrossed in the form working furiously away.
LINDA: Im bored.
CHINASKI: Have a drink.
LINDA: I dont want a drink! I want to do something! We
never do anything! We do what we are doing now. I sit
here while you drink and listen to the radio and work on
the racing form.
CHINASKI: What can I tell you? Im a crank. I dont like
people. I have nothing to say to them. I can only talk to
people when I am drunk and when I am drunk I become
an asshole. Its a problem.
LINDA: Well Im different! I like people. I like to do
things. I like to go to parties. Thats how I was raised in
Utah. I was raised to like people and do things and go to
parties. My sisters and I would drive a thousand miles to
go to a party! Thats where I met you--bastard. At a
CHINASKI: I remember. I saw you and I said to myself--
who is that fine-assed red-headed bitch. She looks crazy.
And I was right.
LINDA: I wanna go to Catalina.
CHINASKI: I heard that but let me hear it again.
LINDA: I SAID: I WANNA GO TO CATALINA! IVE NEVER
BEEN THERE! I HEAR ITS GREAT!
CHINASKI: You heard wrong. its the worst. Everyone is
17 years old. They are either 17 or 68. They cruise
around in their ugly clothes with their ugly bodies and
they give you these looks like you are shit but they are
not shit because they have money and nothing worries
them and they know everything which is that everything
is shit but not them--if you follow me.
LINDA: I SAID: I WANNA GO TO CATALINA!
By the ocean.
There is a marine terminal with a seaplane facility.
The plane is alongside, a dozen or so passengers filing
aboard, including Linda and Chinaski.
Linda in shorts and a halter, tennies and a large beach
bag. Chinaski in shorts and shirt, socks and shoes. No
beach gear. He carries a typewriter.
Linda is beaming.
LINDA: Isnt this great!
In the air.
The plane is bucking this and that way. Linda up front
with the pilot--beaming.
The plane bucking this and that way. The pilot thrashing
with the controls.
Chinaski in a bad way, trying to hold on.
Linda and Chinaski walking along the pier into town.
LINDA: Wasnt that great?
CHINASKI: Yeah. Maybe we should just forget Catalina
and fly back and forth on the plane 2 thousand times.
LINDA: The pilot said it was built in 1940. It had holes in
the floor. He worked the rudder with a handle from the
roof. I said to him: Im scared. He said: me too.
LINDA: I love this. Look at that place. Look at that place.
Theres a restaurant, theres a liquor store for you, theres
a bar, theres another liquor store...A hotel.
In the room.
The room is clean and comfy with a large window and
splendid view of the bay.
Chinaski has a bag containing ice and a double six pack
of tall Rainier Ale. He breaks up the ice and dumps it in
the sink and carefully packs in the beer.
He cracks a beer and breaks out a stogie and lights up
and reclines on the bed.
CHINASKI: Now what?
She shades are drawn. The room is filled with smoke.
There is light and noise from the TV.
Chinaski sleeps. He lies on the bed fully clothed, one
handgripping a tall Rainier Ale. Snoring like a bull. There
are 8 or 10 empties on the floor. A couple cigar butts in
an ashtray. On the desk in a corner of the room
Chinaskis typer with a few pages besides.
She stands there, then goes to the window, draws the
drapes, opens the window. Gathers up the empty cans,
trashes them, likewise the ashtray. She goes to the
typer, stands looking down at it. On a page in the
machine he has written:
o moaning and the flight of the blue bird
into the eye of the sun
She looks at Chinask lying on the bed, sawing away,
shredding the air.
Gives him a fond look.
Goes to the bed, pokes him in the gut.
LINDA: Hank--wake up.
He sputters and opens his eyes. Lies there briefly, then
takes a long suck from the Rainier Ale, kills it, gives her
the empty, gestures for a refill. She goes tothe sink,
draws a can, cracks it and brings it to him.
He takes a long drain, closes his eyes with pleasure.
Lites up a fresh stogie.
CHINASKI: So--you have fun?
LINDA: It was great. First I saw this guy in a boat. I
said: where ya going? He said: gimme half a buck and
I/ll show ya. It was a boat taxi. He takes people in and
out to their boats. So I rode around with him. It was
fabulous. I got to look in all the boats. All the old drunks
were on board. Some of them had young women
dressed in boots. Others had young men. Real old
drunken lechers. then we came back andd I said goodby
and thanked him and walked around. I topped an ate an
abalone sandwich. It was delicious. Then I saw this pet
store and went in. There was this little bird. He reminded
me of you. He had no neck. Then I came back.
On the patio.
Chinaski and Linda at a table.
Relaxing with some wine.
She makes a gesture.
LINDA: I love this. Dont you love it.
CHINASKI: Its not bad.
He sips some wine.
LINDA: What are you thinking?
CHINASKI: I am thinking that if I had your ability to
gather information, combined with my ability to remain
happily in a room for days or weeks on end, I could
really write something. But I dont have your ability to
gather information. I have to sit around and wait for it.
Once it comes I can do something with it. But otherwise
all I can write about is drinking beer, going to the track
and listening to classical music. And smoking cigars. That
isnt like I thought it would be. When I was a kid I
imagined it differently. Maybe it was the Leslie Howard
movie. Or reading about Hemingway--or Lawrence.
There was something special about being a writer. But
there is nothing special about being a writer. They are all
the same. They all have the same tinkertoy souls. You
know it when you get in a room with them. There is only
one great writer every 500 years and it isnt me and it
certainly isnt them. We are fucked. I think Im old baby.
She gives him a soulful look.
LINDA: Lets eat. And then I want to go dancing.
The post office.
Chinaski casing mail.
Next to him is Janko, young fat guy. He has a very loud
JANKO: HANK--I REALLY CAUGHT A HEAD JOB LAST
CHINASKI: You dont say.
JANKO: I HAD TO GO FOR A LOAF OF BREAD. THEN I
WENT TO THE BOOK STORE. I PICKED UP THIS BITCH.
WE WENT FOR COFFEEE AND THEN BACK TO MY APT.
SHE WAS LIKE 20. I GAVE HER A DRINK AND SHE
THROWS ME ON THE BED. SHE GIVES IT ONE OR TWO
STROKES AND IT SPRINGS TO ATTENTION AND
DISSAPEARS INTO HER MOUTH. I CAME LIKE THAT. YOU
READ MY MANUSCRIPT YET?
CHINASKI: I read it Janko. Let me say this. Its starts off
good. In fact its very good. I liked that part about the
emplyoment agency--the woman who made you buy the
new suit. Youre broke, that is why you are there, to get
a job and she send you out to spend $200 on a new suit.
There is something about that that sounds real to me. Its
honest writing. I also liked that scene in the bar.But then
something starts to happen. It happens at the opera.
When you meet that woman. That opera scene has to
go. That bumping into each other and spilling the drink
and the apologies back and forth--those apologies drove
me willd. They go on and on and on. But thats just a
detail. The fact is the writing changes completely at this
point. It loses that simple raw quality. It become stiff,
unreal and corny. Why I know not. Thats something you
have to figure out for yourself.
JANKO: THE OPERA SCENE STAYS.
Chinaski rolls his eyes.
CHINASKI: Janko--look. Dont take it personally. Its very
easy to take it personally. But it isnt personal. Its
something every writer goes thru. No exceptions. Its
part of the process.
JANKO: I SAID: THE OPERA SCENE STAYS.
CHINASKI: Janko--you wanted my opinion. I gave it to
you. You dont agree--fine. Now I am going to finish
casing this mail.
They case mail in silence.
Stone walks up.
CHINASKI: Hello Stone.
STONE: Chinaski--in my office please.
STONE: I will get right to the point.
He has a newspaper on his desk. He holds it up. Its
balls--the paper featuring Chinaskis column.
STONE: This is a paper called balls. There is a weekly
column in this paper called Notes of a Dirty Old Man
written by someone with your exact name--Henry
CHINASKI: Is that right?
STONE: I quote from section 3.456 of the postal
manual--that employess are to comply in the most
stringent manner from behaving or otherwise conducting
themselves in such a fashion to reflect discredit on the
CHINASKI: So you saying that this column I write for
balls reflects discredit on the postal service?
STONE: Let me read this to you. Then you tell me.
He picks up paper, begins to read:
STONE: I had been watching these people go behind this
big curtain. some of them came out in 10 or 20 minutes.
some of them never came out. I finished my beer and
got up and pulled the curtain back and went in. It was
dark and smelled like grass. also ass. It was mostly
guys, licking assholes and reaming each other. a black
guy came up to me. you henry chinaski? thats right. I
read crucifix in a death hand. I consider you the greatest
poet since Verlaine. having said this he reached out and
started fondling my balls.I took the hand away. I said:
not yet, baby im looking for a friend. he left. I looked
around and saw a woman. she was leaning against the
wall. She had her legs open and seemed rather dazed. I
walked over to take a closer look. not bad. in fact very
nice. I dropped my shorts. I put the thing in. I put in
what I had. oh thats good she said--its sort of curved. I
said yes--accident while still a child--on the tricycle. I
was just going good when something RAMMED into the
cheeks of my ass. I saw flashes. I reached behind and
pulled the thing out, Im standing there with this guys
thing in my hand. I said: what the fuck are you doing?
He said: listen friend--this whole game is just one big
deck of cards. if you want to get into the game you have
to take whaever comes up in the shuffle. I pulled up my
drawers and got out of there.
STONE: Now what do you think? Lets say youre the
average housewife in the average Los Angeles
neighborhood and you read something like this and you
say to yourself: Is this the kind of person being hired on
a routine basis by the Postal Service to handle and
deliver my mail?
CHINASKI: Stone--youre really breaking new ground.
First of all--how many people in Los Angeles-- readers of
balls or otherwise--actually know that 1) I--Henry
Chinaski--am a mailman. And 2) even if they do know,
do they care? I think not.
STONE: That isnt the point.
CHINASKI: I think it is.
STONE: No. The point is this: you cant write porno and
work for the Post Office. You have to do one or the
other. You want to write and publish this garbage under
another name--like a pseudonym--thats fine. I have no
objection to that.
CHINASKI: I will talk to my lawyer.
STONE: Do so.
CHINASKI: This is a clear violation of my first
ammendment rights under the constitution. Or is it the
STONE: You refer to the freedom of speech
STONE: Freedom of speech doesnt apply at the Post
(The second and last installment occurs next month)