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The Man with the Beautiful Eyes

Charles Bukowski


when we were kids

there was a strange house

all the shades were

always

drawn

and we never heard voices

in there

and the yard was full of

bamboo

and we liked to play in

the bamboo

pretend we were

Tarzan

(although there was no

Jane).

and there was a

fish pond

a large one

full of the

fattest goldfish

you ever saw

and they were

tame.

they came to the

surface of the water

and took pieces of

bread

from our hands.


our parents had

told us:

“never go near that

house.”

so, of course,

we went.

we wondered if anybody

lived there.

weeks went by and we

never saw

anybody.


then one day

we heard

a voice

from the house

“YOU GOD DAMNED

WHORE!”


it was a man’s

voice.


then the screen

door

of the house was

flung open

and the man

walked

out.


he was holding a

fifth of whiskey

in his right

hand.

he was about

30.

he had a cigar

in his

mouth,

needed a shave.

his hair was

wild and

and uncombed

and he was

barefoot

in undershirt

and pants.

but his eyes

were

bright.

they blazed

with

brightness

and he said,

“hey, little

gentlemen,

having a good

time, I

hope?”


then he gave a

little laugh

and walked

back into the

house.


we left,

went back to my

parents’ yard

and thought

about it.


our parents,

we decided,

had wanted us

to stay away

from there

because they

never wanted us

to see a man

like

that,

a strong natural

man

with

beautiful

eyes.


our parents

were ashamed

that they were

not

like that

man,

that’s why they

wanted us

to stay

away.


but

we went back

to that house

and the bamboo

and the tame

goldfish.

we went back

many times

for many weeks

but we never

saw

or heard

the man

again.


the shades were

down

as always

and it was

quiet.


then one day

as we came back from

school

we saw the

house.


it had burned

down,

there was nothing

left,

just a smoldering

twisted black

foundation

and we went to

the fish pond

and there was

no water

in it

and the fat

orange goldfish

were dead

there,

drying out.


we went back to

my parents’ yard

and talked about

it

and decided that

our parents had

burned their

house down,

had killed

them

had killed the

goldfish

because it was

all too

beautiful,

even the bamboo

forest had

burned.


they had been

afraid of

the man with the

beautiful

eyes.


and

we were afraid

then

that

all throughout our lives

things like that

would

happen,

that nobody

wanted

anybody

to be

strong and

beautiful

like that,

that

others would never

allow it,

and that

many people

would have to

die.


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