Quist said you got to start somewhere. Somewhere outside or somewhere inside or better yet both. He said you can’t wait forever ‘cause you’ll be testing the soil soon enough and there’s millions more behind you waiting for their chance to step up to the mike. You see ‘em everywhere around here, watchin the TV down at Mama Lucy's with their mouths open, full of half-chewed pizza. Nice.
So I figger this is as good a time and place as any. The power-lines are swaying in the wind and the garbage cans are rolling around the streets like city sagebrush. Friggin weather is its own little apocalypse today. I had too much rice and beans for lunch so my head keeps hitting the keyboard. Then I gotta go back and delete a bunch of letters. I ast Sweet Lou to get me some coffee, but he’s fixtured down in the garage waiting for a sign, just playing with the automatic door, watching it go up and down. Lou’s what they call ‘retired.'
He’s okay -- he made me a cup of noodles yesterday, with some sauce. I ate it gratefully like one of them dogs that hang out down by the A & P dumpsters. Now that the economy’s getting bad, we got us a dog problem coming up again. They go after the garbage first, then the babies. It happened before, in the seventies. Meanwhile, some clown on the TV was showing pictures of an old dog what won some big Dog Show. Face reminds me of those inmates upstate with their bangs.
Quist didn’t teach me much, just told me to address the ‘here and now.’ I ast him, “You meet the ‘here and now’ let me know, okay?” He fancied himself an Irish mystic, with a harelip and a curl of red coming down over his forehead, trailing reams of doggerel behind him wherever he went. He would’ve been writing crap like this now, I’m sure of it, if he could’ve stayed off the booze. Makin snide remarks about people he didn’t even know. He said, “Shoot, people just wanna know if you’re rich, they don’t give a snoot how you got that way.” I looked at him, “I ain’t rich, I been working in the book business.”
He ast me, “The book business? What kind of business is that, poot?”
I said, “It’s not much of a business. You watch a lot of educated nice people pulling at slot machines. When one of ‘em hits three cherries, they think it happened ‘cause they made it so. It’s sad, really. Some of ‘em postulate you can still make a living that way.”
He said, “I been down to Atlantic City and over to Foxwoods. Seen Goulet there before he passed on. It was better when you could smoke. Now you got nothing but that godawful noise. You telling me that’s what the book business is like? Don’t sound reasonable to me.” Then he took to wheezin’ and snortin’ and lookin’ to the liquor cabinet. “Get me the Jameson’s, will ya.”