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Devils Gambol
Why am I drown to her? I could lose everything. I don't know her. She's deadly. Zeus won't be happy...
Feeling Buk

Feeling Buk

A Story by vinny ciambriello

Charles Bukowski is alive and well, but not in the way you think. A writer needs inspiration, sometimes something more...


           Feeling Buk

                                   by Vinny Ciambriello






     Who am I? I’ll tell you who I was. I can begin by telling you that. But I won’t go on about it because things have changed. I guess that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want to be the me I left in the east, the me who dreamed of a life but couldn’t live it, who watched everyone else’s take shape but not his own. Half-hearted attempts here and there, but always back to the room, the bed and a mind that wouldn’t allow a window to open.

     I made the trip out west. I found a room. No plans, but a room. It was me and some writing pads and a box of pens. There I remained, basically doing nothing, eating up the cash I’d made selling what little I had. I avoided mirrors. I was too ugly for mirrors. I avoided people too. I clearly had the makings of a superstar.

     Then one day I opened my eyes and it was okay. I didn’t mind the squalor. It seemed it should be so. I was almost in a good mood. I began whistling a tune that was dated and frankly, quite silly. The growth on my face was okay. The faint aroma wafting from my underarms was okay. I took care of my business, flushed, ran a comb through my hair. It felt greasy and a bit fuller than I remembered it being. My head told me to get out so I did.  I moved around the room like a cat, a big cat.  I felt heavier, more substantial. Out on the street I seemed to know which way to go. I was thirsty, but not for water or ginger ale or a cup of tea. I was not a drinker, but my body seemed to be asking for just that. It was demanding it with a fist swinging chains.

     The area had a lot of bars and though most of them seemed to be closed, not all of them were. The sign in the door of one indicated it was open. I looked through the large plate glass window and licked my lips. Then I smiled. It seemed totally proper I should go in. There was no explanation for this feeling.

     It was dark inside and the bar top was damp. The keep had evidently passed a wet rag just before I arrived. My arms had found that out. I took a napkin from the square holder and wiped the wet from them. Then I waited.

   “Hey,” I called.

     The barkeep came out from the back. He was up there in age but big. He looked like he could handle himself. He had real meat hooks for hands. Time hadn’t taken it all away from him. I looked at my hands. They were a lot smaller than his, calloused too.

  “Give me one from the tap, Joe,” I said.

     Joe shook his big furry head, grabbed a mug and let the suds ride its curves.

  “Say, Joe, did I ever land with these?” I asked.

      The barkeep smiled, shook his head. The beer came and I downed it in one continuous pour. I looked at my hands again, the thick, tough, browned skin, the bruised knuckles. They weren’t mine.

  “This is funny,” I said, inspecting them closely.

      A new beer arrived. I hadn’t asked. Joe had a good sense of things.

  “They’ll be another after that,” he said.

  “I need a smoke, Joe,” I said: “Still two for a bit?”

  “You haven’t been around awhile,” he said. He handed me his smokes and I tapped one out, tossed the pack back. I went into my pocket for some bread.

  “Forget it,” he said, holding a lighter in front of my nose. I took a deep drag, coughed.

     Joe laughed. “It takes time,” he said. I understood: I wasn’t a smoker.

     I looked around the place. The windows in the front caught my eyes. “Those blinds need cleaning,” I said. He shook his head, winked. They hung old and tired, weighed down by gravity and filthy air. I closed my eyes for a moment and saw myself doing those blinds. I was bent over a bucket of sudsy hot water, running them through it. My hands were taking a beating. I shook the scene out and snapped to. I must have looked bad.

  “You okay?” Joe asked. He had come from around the bar. A bucket of sudsy water sat at his feet, steaming.  A woman walked out from the back. She was in red, a long dress cut up the sides. I licked my lips. “All the booze you can drink,” he said. “Get going with those blinds.” The lady smiled right through my eyes. “There’s more in the back,” she said, inviting me there with her slightly parted lips.

  “I know,” I said. I finished my drink and slid off the barstool. It was time to work.


     Fifty bucks could have gotten me laid. It would have been nice. Joe would have paid for that too if I could have finished the job, but I couldn’t: The booze had eaten away my resolve. The lady sat, watching, popping cigs in her face, doing stuff with her legs that drove me crazy. Others came in and watched too. They took bets. I worked in a fever. The water ran red: red and dirty brown. One guy started making a move on the prize. I grabbed him, then stumbled and fell. The runt walked right across my belly and out the door. Joe picked me up, dusted me off, put an arm around my shoulders and said, “It’s good to have you back.” I sloshed out into the high sun, wincing, with no other thought but to fall down dead anywhere that would have me.


       Next morning I was sitting outside the rooming house feeling the sun on my eyelids. I was sick. I’d vomited up the night’s intake and then some. The hot bath had helped some, but I was hung-over and raw-throated. I took a swipe at the bottle of cheap wine in my hand. I hated the stuff. My hands were hurting. They were all cut up. I remembered the sudsy water, the lady in red.

     I looked at the bottle for a moment then put it down. Something was wrong. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do any of this stuff. And cleaning blinds? I hadn’t cleaned my own room in weeks. Why’d I do it then? I don’t know. It felt right. So what was I complaining about? Being a drunkard? Okay, that was new, but what about the rest?  My hands were new too.  I liked them. And I had weight. I could take someone apart. I just knew it. I was a bum with assets, instead of a bum without any.

       The lady from the floor above me, about fifty, pretty good looking, a little thick around the middle, but with tight, muscular legs, came out from her cave and took a seat next to me. Had I asked for this blessing? Had I forgotten her snipes about my living in her building? You snore: it’s annoying. Who are you yelling at in there? How many times can you flush a toilet? There’s a smell… Yeah, she’d said it.  She’d made it clear. But that was yesterday, wasn’t it? Today it was a sit down with me on a small stoop. It was her lighting two butts and handing me one, looking at my cut up hands like it meant something.

  “How’d that happen?” she asked.

  “Wild cat,” I answered.

  “Just playing, I guess,” she said.

    She checked me out top to bottom like a meat inspector, first day on the job, looking to impress the boss.

  “How big is your dick?” she asked. I liked the question. Direct, to the point. How big was my dick? I shrugged my shoulders. How big did it need to be?

     She looked good to me: the legs and the promise of what lay beyond. She had good stuff left. I was getting hard just thinking about it. It was poking, pulling my pubic hair along. She noticed, seemed to sum it up to her satisfaction. I noticed too.

  “You look sick,” she said.

  “Nothing much,” I said.

  “I knew a guy…well, we can forget about that, can’t we?”

  “Consider it forgotten,” I said.

     She puffed away, directing the exhale onto a sparrow taken to a curl in the fencing.

  “You need a cat,” she said. “Get a few. Not good having just one.”

  “I could do that,” I said. “It seems I’m liable to do anything.” I bowed my head to the floor between my legs.

  “You just might be,” she said, puffing away.

  “You, for example” I said.

     She looked at me like no one had before. She wouldn’t let it go either.

  “It gets better with distance,” I said. “I looked at her looking. “If you know what’s going on, could you let me in on it?”

  “Stand up.”

     I stood up.

  “Say, Marcie, I’m going to f**k you to heaven.” Narrow your eyes like they’re beams from a laser. Yeah. Now say it.

  I did. I began to shake.

  “Don’t freak out,” she said, grabbing some meat on my arm. “You’re not yourself is all. You need a good woman. You’ve been holed up in that room ever since you got here. Maybe that’s why…never mind. Give me your hand.”

     I gave her my hand. She ran her own over it, getting me hard again.

  “I want to,” I said, pulling her towards me, feeling a mix of embarrassment and crazed desire. I stopped pulling. “What the f**k am I doing? What is this? Why are you here? I don’t like this place. I don’t like it…” 

   “I know, I know. Like I said, you’re not yourself.”

   “A day ago you’d have walked over my corpse. A day ago I was that annoying little s**t who snored too loud. A day ago…”

  “Yeah, I know. Come on.”

     She took my hand, pulled me up the stairs and got me thinking that maybe it was better I stopped thinking.


     I was looking at myself there in bed as a knock came on the door. Marcie was over on her side. It had been a sweet, slow ride, then a fast and furious climax. When had I ever fucked like that? I got up and talked through the door.

  “Yeah?” I asked.

  “Is Marcie there?” a deep voice answered.

  “Who’s asking?”

  “I was told by the manager that I could find her here,” the voice came back.

     Marcie rolled over, threw the sheet from her. “It’s Fredrick.”
   “You know this guy?” I said.

  “Marcie: you in there? You come out. You come out right now.”

  “Oh, I see,” I said. I looked at my hands, made fists. “How big is he?”

  “Six-five,” she answered.

  “That’s your guy. You better go to him.”

     She got dressed. I felt her up as she did. “My sweet Buk,” she said, kissing me lightly on the lips. Then she called to Fredrick, told him to meet her at her place. He said no, so she asked him to back up from the door. He said no again so she asked him to move to the side.

  “Get your f*****g a*s out here,” good old Fred ordered.

  “I think I should pound him,” I said.

  “It’s okay. He knows I f**k around.”

     I didn’t like the sound of it, but I stayed my tongue. She went to the door, opened and closed it, all in a fraction of a second. Fredrick never had a chance. I sat back on the bed, naked as a jay, looking at a dick that kind of looked like mine if you were drunk enough. It had done a good job.


     She told Fredrick I was a writer. I don’t think Fred cared what my profession was. Actually I didn’t have a profession, only the rumor of one, but Marcie saw to that too. She was back at midnight, two bottles of wine in a swaying plastic bag, an old-fashioned typewriter weighted in her paws. We drank as the strangely archaic object sat cool on the floor. I had a hand on her leg.

  “You’re sweet,” she said.

  “I don’t think so. I think I’m a son-of-a-b***h actually.”

  “That’s good,” she said.

      Was it? Maybe. Maybe that’s what all the crap inside of me was coming to. Maybe I was just giving in to the son-of-a-b***h I actually was. Maybe that’s what was growing me big balls and hair on my chest and all the rest.

  “How’d you know I was a writer?” I asked.

  “That’s all we get here,” she said. I thought about that, poured more wine for the both of us. I was getting used to the taste. We each finished the pour in a long draught. I started feeling the urge again. She walked to the window, looked out.

  “Tonight you’ll write,” she said. She gave me a soft kiss and clacked to the door and out it. My belly oozed with hurt as I watched heaven go elsewhere.

     There I was, sick, alone, in a dark room with a machine for making words on paper. I laid back, stretched out and found p***y cats in my wanderings. I shut my eyes and allowed them to play.


     I banged it out all night. The stuff was all over the floor like some kind of jigsaw puzzle. In the morning, as I vomited into the bathroom sink, a knock came softly to my ear. I wiped my mouth and took my time answering it. Marcie came in trailing lilac perfume. I left her and flopped back on the bed. She got on her knees, began retrieving my output.

  “Good,” she said, reading some lines. A few seconds later she continued the review.                             “This one,” she said, tapping the page, “this one we publish.”

    “What’d I write?” I asked.

     She laughed. “Did you read mine?” she asked. They were on the floor near the bed.

  “I did,” I said. I grabbed them up, fanned through them, found the one I liked. “Here,” I said. “Write more like this.”

      She took the page and read over her work. “More poems about my p***y?” she asked.

  “Yeah: with the butterflies floating in and out.”

     She came over, slapped me playfully. “I should f**k you,” she said.

  “Some one will soon enough,” I answered.

     Marcie was someone else’s lady and I didn’t want her in my room. I watched her as she read. I wanted to rip her dress off and f**k her to the soul. I also wanted to cry. She was here for someone else, not me.  Everyone was here for someone else. And now I was becoming that someone else.

     I gave her a look of suspicion. She gave me a wan smile and left. I opened the door a minute later, looked both ways down the green-painted halls. No Marcie, but her laugh echoed. I headed in that direction.

     Fred had arrived, all six foot and change. I walked right up to him as they played look- at-me-in-the-doorway, paused then walked past.

     I needed a drink. I headed for the bar. Joe was in the back, chasing, of all things, a small orange cat.

  “Let me,” I said, walking past him, crouching. “Come on fella,” I said, scratching the ground with a finger. “Joe, go back in. You’re scaring him.”

  “Sure, Buk,” he said.

     I sat down in the dirt. The cat came and plopped into the circle of me and looked into my eyes.

  “Okay,” I said, “but I don’t remember you in my dream.” The cat purred. I put him on my shoulder and went back in. “I’m taking this guy,” I said. Joe put a cold one on the bar. He was sweating.

  “Did we ever go at it, Joe? Who kicked whose a*s? What year was that? By the way, who the hell are you?”

     Joe kept cleaning the bar top.

  “How the f**k did I know your name? Come on, Joe. It’s time. I’m typing the poems, drinking, puking, even getting laid. What else is on the agenda?”

     He remained quiet.  I drank my beer. “I’m not Buk,” I said. “I may be sleeping in his room, wearing his legs, using his tool, thinking his thoughts, but the name is Henry.”

     He smiled.

     I took my cat and left. We went and got him a bowl, some food and litter. He didn’t seem to care as he walked across my shoulder, purring. “Who am I, orange?” I asked. Orange craned his neck to look at me, eye to eye. I craned mine too. “You know?” He meowed.


     Joe got my attention with a head out a car window.

  “You like the ponies,” he said. It wasn’t a question.

  “Of course,” I said. “Say hello to Joe, Orange. He was just leaving.”

  “Viv’s got the bar. Jump in.”

  “The race track?”


  “What about the cat?”

  “We’ll pick up a box,” he said.


     I liked the track. The action was good. I looked at the form, swallowed the numbers up and down and told Joe who to put the money on.  I lost only the third and sixth and those by only a nose. Joe got his twenty back and I had six hundred stuffed in my pocket. I bought some big sandwiches, knew exactly where to get them. The sun felt good. I was at the rail watching, confident. We threw back more than a few beers and I felt like a new man as I puffed on a cigar, paid out from my winnings. I strutted out of the park two inches taller. I could make this work, I thought. Then I thought again. When we got back, I followed Joe into the bar.

  “We’re not done,” I said as Joe flipped the bar top and got cozy behind the counter. I had my cat with me in a box punched with holes.

  “I told you everything, Henry.”

  “Yeah, I’m imbued somehow.”

  “Man,” Joe said, shaking his head, wiping a tear from his eye, “totally.”

  “But I’m not the first.”

  “No. Buk tries them out and leaves.”

  “Didn’t make the grade, huh?”

  “No,” Joe answered.


  “So, give him space. Give him some room.”

  “Be a drunk,” I said.

  “Be a writer,” Joe countered.


  “Sure. And write.”

  “It’s been done, Joe. He’s dead. Whatever he was, whatever he said, that’s it. This is me, not him.”

  “Is it?” Joe asked.

  “I think so.” I felt my gut wrenching. I started to shake.  Joe came back with a scotch and I downed it.

  “Steady there,” he said, big hand on my shoulder.

  “Okay,” I said, wiping a tear away.


     I remind everyone of Buk, but not completely. There’s a different song, my song and it weaves and winds through every page I bang out. It’s what the good ones do. It’s the one thing Buk couldn’t give me, the one thing I wouldn’t let him. It’s the fire and breath of the living soul that will not be denied. He’s got his space. He’s beautiful in my fingers, nasty in my head and dreams. My gut is his, but my heart is mine.

     I know you, Buk, and I’m not letting you die. The search is over.

© 2011 vinny ciambriello

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I thought it was a very fine example of good story telling. Your dialogue help build an affinity for the characters. I definitely feel I can improve my own writing by reading yours.

Posted 7 Years Ago

an Amazing story. Funny, thought provloking with memorable scenes and dialogue. I stayed glued to it as with the other story of yours I read. I like your fiction so let me know if you ever post another story. I could see the bukowski influence and it reminded me of nelson algren too. BUt still yet you have a voice of your own. Well done.

Posted 7 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on January 10, 2011
Last Updated on January 10, 2011


vinny ciambriello
vinny ciambriello

Brooklyn, NY

I'm moody. When I'm onto a good thing with a story, my mood lifts and I'm having fun. it takes several sit-downs to finish a story. About me, I'm a Brooklyn, NY guy. I have the attitude of the .. more..