FROM MY FIRST SHORT-STORY COLLECTION

Los Angeles Pick-up

1973 — The girl was wearing a tan mini suit. She asked the people at the bar if Weird John had been there tonight. The fattish, balding bartender thumbed his hairline 40’s mustache and said that was a horrible name for a person.

“That’s an awful name.” He said it over and over. “Awful. Just awful. What an awful name.”

“What you want him for?” asked a guy at the bar. “Yeah, he was here.”

“He came by here to sell me a ring before, and the other bartender threw him out before I could pay him.”

The bartender told somebody he was divorced — “two years. I got no problems now. Call me Eddie. They went thataway. My problems. I pay my rent, have my fun, go to the races. One day I made $400 touting, you know?”

The girl in the tan suit ordered an orange juice, “because the doc has put me off liquor. I got an ulcer working. We live outside L.A. Where you from?” she asked the bartender. “Texas?”

“Texas? Hell, I’m from Joisey. Can’t you tell? How long you been living out there?”

“Five years.”

“Who’s us?”

“My sister and I.”

“I got a place in town. Eighty bucks a month.”

“We’re paying one-seventy for a two-story house.”

“You oughta see my place then.”

“Maybe I should.”

“I even got orange juice in the fridge.”

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.