old soak chapter eight

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By Don Marquis
Chapter Eight, “The Old Soak and Hail and Farewell,” 1921

Well, another kick I got on the abvolition of the barroom is the fact that you got to stay around home so much and that naturally leads. to having a row with your wife.

When there was barrooms my wife used to jaw me every time I come home anyways lit up and I just let her jaw me and there wasn’t any row for I figured better let her get away with it who knows maybe she thinks she is right about it.

But now I stick around home a good deal of the time and it leads to words.

Well, she says to me, why don’t you go and get a job of work of some kind.

Well, I tell her, mind your own business I always been a good pervider ain’t I. You have got five or six children working for you ain’t you and a man that pervides his wife with five or six children to work for her is not going to listen to no back talk.

Well, she says, you ought to be ashamed to loaf around home all the time.

Well, I says, I’m thinking up a big business deal but that’s the way with women they never understand they got to keep their mouth shut and give a man peace and quiet to do his thinking in so he can make them a good living all they think about is newfangled ways to spend the money after he has slaved himself half to death making it.

Well, she says, I ain’t seen you slaving any lately.

Well, I tells her, I done all my hard slaving when I was young and I got a little money coming in right along from them two houses I own, and I ain’t going to work myself into the grave for no extravagant woman, and me with a heart pappitation you can hear half a mile on a clear day.

Well, she says, what rent money them two houses brings in don’t any more than pay for the booze you drink.

Well, I says, you Prohibitionists done that to me. You went and made it plumb impossible to get good liquor for any reasonable price. That there rent money used to pay for three times the booze I drink.

Well, she says, you oughta get a job.

If I was to tie myself down to a job, I tells her, what chance would I have to trade and dicker around and make little turnovers, let alone thinking up this big business deal I am working on.

You are a liar, she said, and if I knowed where your whiskey was hid I’d bust every bottle and what kind of a business deal are you thinking up.

It is an invention I says to her and you mind your own business just because I have stood for you intrupting me for forty years is no sign I am going to stand for it forty years more.

You can quit any time she says and good riddance the children will keep me and there will be one less to cook for besides being ashamed of you before all my own friends and the nice people the children know.

Well, I said, here I set turning over the leaves of the Bible and you attack me that way and me trying to think up a business deal to buy you an automobile and the pappitation in my heart that bad it shakes the chair I am setting in and if a man with one foot in the grave can’t get any peace and quiet to read his Bible in his own home against the time he is going to cash in then I will say that Prohibition has brought this country to a pretty pass.

Well, she says, what is that pappitation from but all the liquor you drunk.

It is from my constitution, I says, as the doctor will tell you if it hadn’t been for a little mite of stimulant now and then I would of cashed in long ago and you would now have the life insurance money.

Well, she says, what kind of an invention is this you claim you are thinking up all the time?

Yes, I says, I would see myself telling you, wouldn’t I and you blabbing it the next time a lot of them church women meets at our house and some old church deacon getting hold of it and getting rich off of it and me wandering the streets in destitution with the rain running down often my beard and the end of my nose because you and the children cast me into the street.

Well, she says, where is that thousand dollars that my uncle Lemuel willed to me and I give it to you for one of them inventions nearly thirty years ago and never seen hide nor hair on it since then.

Well, I says, that thousand dollars is gone and it went the same way as that money I loaned to your cousin Dan when he failed in business and would of starved to death him and his family if I hadn’t come across with the cash that is where that thousand dollars is.

Well, that’s the way it goes, until I get tired of trying to make her see any sense and sneak out to where my stuff is hid and fill me a pint bottle for my hip pocket and go and find a friend somewheres.

And in just that way Prohibition is breaking up millions and millions of homes every day.

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