It was late. I was tired.
My mentor is in touch with the supernatural.
It’s easy to get caught up
in his dangerous delusions.
He’s a friend
I keep at a distance
he’s a megalomaniac
but his belief in himself
is second to none—something, few people have.
The harbor pay-phone
is still connected.
I looked at his yacht.
I dropped a quarter in the slot.
I dropped another.
Then I looked at the cost.
“Two dollars? Inflation.”
I dialed, and his phone rang.
“This is the Admiral’s wife.”
“Are you his second wife, or third?” I asked.
“He never had a second wife.”
“Is the Admiral available?”
“He’s typing now, on his custom typewriter. He might be able to spare 15 minutes for you, if you will consent to processing?”
“Okay,” I said.
I walked up the gang-plank, into his plush apartment.
I could smell Cools cigarettes,
and hear his relentless typing, as if he was trying to defeat something.
The blank page was being littered with his letters
on conquering the world
with his original philosophy.
I didn’t dare speak to him
His red hair was growing in tuffs
on the sides
of his balding head.
Then he turned around
and his eyes
looked into mine
and he gave me his gregarious grin.
“You want to know how to write a book that will turn the world on its ear.”
“That could be helpful,” I said.
“The secret is laughter, and two gallons of scalding hot coffee. The last book I wrote made the editor go insane. He jumped out a two-story window. I didn’t mean to kill him. He just couldn’t handle the truth.”
“Isn’t that a movie line?” I asked.
“They stole it from me, like they steal everything from me. I have to live on the high seas, just to avoid the IRS. People are scared of my philosophy, but it will unshackle the world.”
“I need some of that wisdom,” I said. “I keep getting in my own way.”
“A common problem.” He pursed his purple lips together in concentration. “Here’s what you do…”
I could sense he was about to hypnotize me.
“Go under… You were John Steinbeck in a past life. No… no… that’s not right. More profane. Your strait-laced clothes and constricting manner are a cover-up, for who you actually are. What year were you born?”
“Ah, Bukowski. That’s when he died. I can say, you are better looking than him. You must’ve done something right in a past life.”
“I like Bukowski, but I thought he would come back as a worm.”
“All he did was drink, gamble, and…”
“That’s enough. Bukowski gave people hope. That overrides a lifetime of degradation. I mean, look at you. You’re too perfect, with only one problem.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“You aren’t prolific enough.”
“How do I enter the zone, where the story takes over my mind?”
“You have to give up control. Give it up to me, and I will help you with your story…”
“Admiral, thanks for the advice, but I have to get going.”
“Until next time,” he said.
I left his yacht with my life, and it felt good to walk on solid ground again.
I had a new insight.
I know who I am, and it’s not Bukowski.