Bukowski came riding onto the L.A. coastline atop a tidal wave of cheap beer, dirty hookers, and salt water. We all shivered as he pulled that leather face out of the sand. It looked a bit like someone had carved out Al Pacino’s face and tanned it to make an Al Pacino mask.
Everything about Bukowski was extraordinary in ways that made one question God. His head looked longer than it should have been. The look he gave us was like a middle finger out of a car window. Nobody knew what to make of him. We stood, waiting for him to do something. We weren’t sure what, but we all hoped it was something amazing.
Bukowski limped onto the beach. Nobody moved to help. We simply watched as he came at us, clutching a fistful of papers like a weapon. The papers were his only defense, the only thing between him and our predatorial curiosity. Bukowski collapsed in the sand, lacking the energy to stand on his strung out legs. We tried kicking him and poking him with driftwood, but he didn’t move. It took us a while, but the bravest of us managed to pry the papers from his calloused palms.
They were words, we found. Poems. They were raw, first drafts with edits that looked like cigarette burns. Our eyes darted from the poetry to his face and back again. How could such an ugly man be so human? Why wasn’t he like one of those freaks sobbing on daytime talk shows? The entire mob began weeping violently, shedding saltwater tears onto the beach. We clawed at our faces. We stomped at the rising tides. Some of us reached for the beer bottles, some for the dirty hookers. But the bottles were full of tears and the hookers were all plastic.