with one punch, at the age of 16 and 1/2, I knocked out my father, a cruel shiny bastard with bad breath, and I didn’t go home for some time, only now and then to try to get a dollar from dear momma. it was 1937 in Los Angeles and it was a hell of a Vienna. I ran with these older guys but for them it was the same: mostly breathing gasps of hard air and robbing gas stations that didn’t have any money, and a few lucky among us worked part-time as Western Union messenger boys. we slept in rented rooms that weren’t rented and we drank ale and wine with the shades down being quiet quiet and then awakening the whole building with a fistfight breaking mirrors and chairs and lamps and then running down the stairway just before the police arrived some of us soldiers of the future running through the empty starving streets and alleys of Los Angeles and all of us getting together later in Pete’s room a small cube of space under a stairway, there we were, packed in there without women without cigarettes without anything to drink, while the rich pawed away at their many choices and the young girls let them, the same girls who spit at our shadows as we walked past. it was a hell of a Vienna. 3 of us under that stairway were killed in World War II. another one is now manager of a mattress company. me? I’m 30 years older, the town is 4 or 5 times as big but just as rotten and the girls still spit on my shadow, another war is building for another reason, and I can hardly get a job now for the same reason I couldn’t then: I don’t know anything, I can’t do anything. sex? well, just the old ones knock on my door after midnight. I can’t sleep and they see the lights and are curious. the old ones. their husbands no longer want them, their children are gone, and if they show me enough good leg (the legs go last) I go to bed with them. so the old women bring me love and I smoke their cigarettes as they talk talk talk and then we go to bed again and I bring them love and they feel good and talk until the sun comes up, then we sleep. it’s a hell of a Paris.