From the Archives: Bring Me Your Love (1983)

Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Archives
Courtesy High Times

Harry walked down the steps and into the garden. Many of the patients were out there. He had been told that his wife, Gloria, was out there. He saw her sitting alone at a table. He approached her obliquely, from the side and a bit from the rear. He circled the table and sat down across from her. Gloria sat very straight, she was very pale. She looked at him but didn’t see him. Then she saw him.

“Are you the conductor?” she asked.

“The conductor of what?”

“The conductor of verisimilitude?”

“No, I’m not.”

She was pale, her eyes were pale, pale brown.

“How do you feel, Gloria?”

It was an iron table, painted white, a table that would last for centuries. There was a small bowl of flowers in the center, wilted dead flowers hanging from sad, dangling stems.

“You are a whore-fucker, Harry. You fuck whores.”

“That’s not true, Gloria.”

“Do they suck you too? Do they suck your dick?”

“I was going to bring your mother, Gloria, but she was down with the flu.”

“That old bat is always down with something. Are you the conductor?”

The other patients sat down at the tables or up against the trees or they stretched out on the lawn. They were motionless and silent.

“How’s the food here, Gloria? Do you have any friends?”

“Bad. And no. Whore-fucker.”

“Do you want anything to read? What can I bring you to read?”

Gloria didn’t answer. Then she brought her right hand up, looked at it, curled it into a fist and punched herself in the nose, hard. Harry reached across and held both of her hands. “Gloria, please—”

She began to cry, “Why didn’t you bring me any chocolates?”

“Gloria, you told me you hated chocolates.”

Her tears rolled down profusely. “I don’t hate chocolates! I love chocolates!”

“Don’t cry, Gloria, please. I’ll bring you chocolates, anything you want. Listen, I’ve rented a motel room just a couple of blocks away, just to be near you—”

Her pale eyes widened. “A motel room? You’re in there with some fucking whore! You watch X-rated movies together, there’s a full-length mirror on the ceiling!”

“I’ll be right near you for a couple of days, Gloria, so I want to bring you everything you need—”

“Bring me your love, then,” she screamed. “Why the hell don’t you bring me your love?”

A few of the patients turned and looked.

“Gloria, I’m sure that there is nobody who cares for you more than I do.”

“You want to bring chocolates! Well, jam those chocolates up your ass!”

Harry took a card out of his wallet. It was from the motel. He handed it to her.

“I just want to give you this before I forget. Are you allowed to phone out? Just phone me if you need anything at all.”

Gloria didn’t answer. She took the card and folded it into a small square. Then she bent down, took off one of her shoes, put the card in the shoe and put the shoe back on.

Then Harry saw Dr. Jensen approaching from across the lawn. Dr. Jensen walked up smiling and saying, “Well, well, well…”

“Hello, Dr. Jensen,” Gloria spoke.

“May I sit down?” the doctor asked.

“Surely,” said Gloria.

The doctor was a heavy man, he reeked of weight and authority. His eyebrows looked thick and heavy, they were thick and heavy. They wanted to fall into his wet circular mouth and vanish but life wouldn’t let them.

The doctor looked at Gloria. The doctor looked at Harry. “Well, well, well,” he said, “I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made—”

“Yes, Dr. Jensen, I was just telling Harry how much more stable I felt, how much the consultations and the group sessions have helped. I’ve lost so much of my unreasonable anger, useless frustrations and much of my destructive self-pity—”

The doctor smiled at Harry. “Gloria has made a remarkable recovery!”

“Yes,” Harry said, “I’ve just noticed.”

“I think it will only be a matter of a little more time, and then Gloria will be home with you again, Harry—”

“Doctor?” Gloria asked. “May I have a cigarette?”

“Why, of course,” the doctor said, pulling out a pack of exotic cigarettes and tapping one out. Gloria took it and the doctor extended his gold-plated lighter, flicked it to flame. Gloria got her light, inhaled, exhaled…

“You have beautiful hands, Dr. Jensen,” she said.

“Why, thank you, my dear—”

“And a mind that saves, a mind that cures—”

“Well, we do the best we can around the old place… Now, if you’ll both excuse me, I have to check out a few other patients.”

He got his bulk up from the chair and made toward a table where a woman was visiting a man.

Gloria stared at Harry. “That fat fuck eats nurses’ shit for lunch.”

“Gloria, it’s been good seeing you, but it was a long drive and I need some rest. And I think the doctor’s correct, I’ve noticed some progress.”

She laughed. But it wasn’t a joyful laugh, it was a stage laugh, like a part memorized. “I haven’t made any progress at all. In fact, I’ve retrograded… immensely.”

“That’s not true, Gloria—”

“I’m the patient, Fishhead. I can make a better diagnosis than anybody.”

“What’s this ‘Fishhead’?”

“Hasn’t anybody ever told you that you have a head like a fish?”

“No.”

“Next time you shave, take a look. And be careful not to cut your gills off.”

“I’m going to leave now, but I’ll visit you again, quite soon.”

“Next time bring the conductor.”

“You sure I can’t bring you something?”

“You’re just going to that motel room to fuck some whore.”

“Suppose I bring you a copy of New York? You used to like that magazine—”

“Jam New York up your ass, Fishhead! And follow it with Time!”

Harry reached across and squeezed the hand she had hit herself in the nose with. “Keep it together, you’re going to be well soon.”

Gloria gave no response. Harry got up, turned and walked toward the stairway. When he got halfway up the stairs he turned and gave Gloria a little wave. She sat, motionless.

_________________

They were in the dark, going good, when the phone rang.

Harry kept going but the phone kept going. It was very disturbing. Soon, his cock went down.

“Shit,” he said and rolled off. He switched on the lamp and picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

It was Gloria. “You were fucking some whore!”

“Gloria, do they let you phone this late? Don’t they give you a sleeping pill?”

“What took you so long in answering the phone?”

“Don’t you ever take a crap? I was in the middle of a good one, you got me in the middle of a good one.”

“I’ll bet I did. You going to finish after you get me off the phone?”

”Gloria, it’s your goddamned extreme paranoia that has gotten you where you are.”

“Fishhead, my paranoia is often the forerunner of an approaching truth—”

“Listen, get yourself some sleep. I’ll come see you tomorrow—”

“Okay, Fishhead, finish your fuck!”

Gloria hung up.

Nan was in her dressing gown, sitting on the edge of the bed with a whiskey and water on the night table. She lit a cigarette and crossed her legs.

“Well,” she asked, “how’s the little wifey?”

Harry poured a drink and sat down beside her.

“I’m sorry, Nan—”

“Sorry for what, for who? For her or me or what?”

Harry drained his shot of whiskey. “Let’s not make a goddamned soap opera out of this thing.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, what do you want to make out of it? A roll in the hay? You want to try to finish? Or would you rather go into the bathroom and beat it off?”

Harry looked at Nan. “Goddamn it, don’t get smart-ass! You knew my situation as well as I did. You were the one who wanted to come along!”

“That’s because I thought if you didn’t take me you’d bring some whore!”

“Oh, shit,” said Harry, “there’s that word again.”

”What word? What word?” Nan drained her glass, threw it against the wall.

Harry walked over, picked up her glass, filled it, handed it to Nan, then filled his own.

Nan looked down into her glass, took a hit, put it down on the nightstand. “I’m going to phone her, I’m going to tell her everything!”

“Like hell you will! That’s a sick woman!”

“And you’re a sick son of a bitch!”

Just then the phone rang again. It was in the center of the room where Harry had left it. They both leaped from the bed and charged toward the phone. On the third ring they both landed, each holding a piece of the receiver. They rolled, breathing heavily, all legs and arms and bodies in desperate juxtaposition, being reflected in the full-length overhead mirror. 

High Times Magazine, August 1983

Read the full issue here.

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