16 years old
during the depression
I’d come home drunk
and all my clothing—
shorts, shirts, stockings—
suitcase, and pages of
short stories
would be thrown out on the
front lawn and about the
my mother would be
waiting behind a tree:
“Henry, Henry, don’t
go in... he’ll
kill you, he’s read
your stories...”
“I can whip his
“Henry, please take
this... and
find yourself a room.”
but it worried him
that I might not
finish high school
so I’d be back
one evening he walked in
with the pages of
one of my short stories
(which I had never submitted
to him)
and he said, “this is
a great short story.”
I said, “o.k.,”
and he handed it to me
and I read it.
it was a story about
a rich man
who had a fight with
his wife and had
gone out into the night
for a cup of coffee
and had observed
the waitress and the spoons
and forks and the
salt and pepper shakers
and the neon sign
in the window
and then had gone back
to his stable
to see and touch his
favorite horse
who then
kicked him in the head
and killed him.
the story held
meaning for him
when I had written it
I had no idea
of what I was
writing about.
so I told him,
“o.k., old man, you can
have it.”
and he took it
and walked out
and closed the door.
I guess that’s
as close
as we ever got.
Other works by Charles Bukowski...