Appears in Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame

Charles Bukowski
Shot of Red-Eye

I used to hold my social security card
up in the air,
he told me,
but I was so small
they couldn't see it,
all those big
guys around.

you mean the place with the
big green screen?
I asked.

Yeah. well, anyhow, I finally got on
the other day
picking tomatoes, and Jesus Christ,
I couldn't get anywhere
it was too hot, too hot
and I couldn't get anything in my sack
so I layed under the truck
in the shade and drank
wine. I didn't make a

have a drink, I said.

sure, he said.

2 big women came in and
I mean BIG
and they sat next to

shot of red-eye, one of them
said to the bartender.

Likewise, said the other.

they pulled their dresses up
around their hips and
swung their legs.

um, umm. I think I'm going mad, I told
my friend from the tomato fields.

Jesus, he said, Jesus and Mary, I can't
believe what I see.

it's all
there, I said.

you a fighter? the one next to me

no, I said.

what happened to your

automobile accident on the San Berdo
freeway. some drunk jumped the divider. I was
the drunk.

how old are you, daddy?

old enough to slice the melon, I said,
tapping my cigar ashes into my beer to give me

can you buy a melon? she asked.

have you ever been chased across the Mojave and

no, she said.

I pulled out my last 20 and with an old man's
virile abandon ordered
4 drinks.

both girls smiled and pulled their dresses
higher, if possible.

who's your friend? they asked.

this is Lord Chesterfield, I told

pleased to meetcha, they

hello, bitches, he answered.

we walked through the 3rd. street tunnel
to a green hotel, the girls had a

there was one bed and we all got
in. I don't know who got

the next morning my friend and I
were down at the Farm Labor Market
on San Pedro Street
holding up and waving our social
security cards.

they couldn't see

I was the last one on the truck out. a big woman stood
up against me. she smelled like
port wine.

honey, she asked, whatever happened to your

Fair grounds. a dancing bear who

bullshit, she said.

maybe so, I said, but get your hand out
from around my
balls, everybody's looking.

when we got to the
fields the sun was
really up
and the world

©Linda Lee Bukowski - used with permission