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His Business Is Good Post by :frankienov Category :Essays Author :Robert Cortes Holliday Date :November 2011 Read :1145

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His Business Is Good

"HULLO there, Bill! I'm glad to see you. How're you getting along? Do you know, I didn't know you when you first came in. Let me see, it's been a couple--no, four years since I saw you before. I was pretty much down and out then, ha! ha! Just bummed my way to New York, you know. Well, how are things with you? You know, I sat there looking an' a looking at you--couldn't make up my mind whether it was you or not. I says to myself, 'I'll risk it,' I says. 'If it's Bill, we'll have a time,' I says. Ha! Ha! I came over to take a bath--there's a fine bath place across the street, where I always go. I'm in the photograph business, you know, over in Brooklyn. Yes, doing well now; I'm manager of the place; I'll take you over to see it. Been in the business three years, same place; first two years work, work all the time, no pay at all, so to speak. But I knew I was learning the business, and I liked the job and liked the boss; we were busted together, you know. I was head musher in a mushhouse at Coney, you know, when I first met him; then I lost the job; we bummed around together awhile. Then I went back to Indiana--by freight--to see my folks.

"Yes, the old man's well; Dora's married, you know; married a Sunday school superintendent, church where she taught Sunday school. Nothing doing in Indiana. Laid around awhile, then I got a letter from this feller. He had come into money, set up a photograph shop, told me to come back and take a job with him. I went to my sister, Dora, you know, and got railroad fare here. I says to her, 'If you can get me the money, I'll pay you as soon as I can, which won't be long,' I says. 'I've got a good job there,' I says. I says, 'Of course, I can bum my way back, but it will take me four or five days, maybe a week,' I says. 'If I have railroad fare I can get on a train here one day and get off there the next,' I says. She got me the money from her husband--sixteen dollars; she's been awful good to me; and I came in a passenger train. First time, you know, ha! ha! Second-class, though; just as good as first, though. I got on at Indianapolis one day, you know, and got off in New York the next day. Twenty-four hours, you know.

"First thing, I went to the feller's place, but he had moved. Didn't leave any address, where he had gone, you know; nobody around there knew anything about him. I was in a deuce of a fix. Didn't have a cent of money--wasn't the first time, though. We used to write to each other sometimes through the General Delivery, so I went there, and sure enough there was a letter for me; but there was some postage due on it somehow. I says to the man, I says, 'I haven't got any money; I can't pay it'; there was a feller standing behind me in the line; he ups and says, 'Here, I'll pay it,' he says; 'it's only two cents' he says. So I got the letter and set right out for the address; the feller had moved to a better place.

"Well, Bill, business has been good; we do a corking business on Saturdays and Sundays, and the feller owns two or three galleries now. He goes around tending to all of them and I have charge of one; there's my card. I'm thinking about quitting, though, and going out West again; business is too good, that's the trouble. No excitement; I'm getting discouraged. Too much responsibility. Lord, Bill, I'm a tramp; I am; yes, sir, that's what I am. I was raised that way. I like the life. The man across the street from me owns a restaurant, where I eat; offered to loan me a couple of hundred dollars to buy the gallery where I am. Ha! Ha! That's a good one, isn't it?

"Girls, Bill! you ought to see the girls that come to my place, Bill, yes, sir, to get their pictures taken. They all call me 'Jack.' Yes, everybody around here calls me 'Jack.' I used to be 'John,' you know, at home, where we were boys together; great days those, yes, sir; I never will forget those days.

"Why, you know, I could have been married, Bill; yes, sir, ha! ha! Me, a tramp. A fine girl, too, a regular lady, the real article, yes, sir, rich too, yes, sir. Why I went over there one day, and their dog--a blame little black dog--was sick; you ought to have seen the case of medicine they had for that dog. A whole blame box full of bottles of medicine; good medicine, too, yes, sir; why, I would have liked to have had some of that medicine myself.

"I'll take you over and introduce you to some of those girls; here's a picture I took of one; she's a daisy. I took her to the theater last Saturday night. You know, it does a feller good to see good shows at the theater. This theater--it's a little place right near my gallery--I go there every once in awhile; they have better shows there than they do at the Opera House; I like 'em better. This was a fine show, 'His Mother's Son.' Yes, sir, it does a feller good to go to the theater.

"What's the matter with your coming over and staying with me to-night? But no, I haven't a room now; you'd have to bunk in the gallery. That's where I sleep now. I did have a room, you know, blame fine room, running water, hot and cold, and all that sort of thing, three dollars a week. But I got tired of it. Yes, too comfortable, bed all made up for me every day, and everything else. It made me sick. I like to make my own bed. I like to rough it like I'm used to doing, yes, so I gave it up and sleep in the gallery now where I belong. I feel at home there, and there's plenty of room.

"Say, Bill, how are you fixed? Need any money? I've got more'n I want. Don't know what to do with it all, you know. Not used to it, just blow it in. Well, all right, we'll take and spend it then. Drink up, Bill, and let's go some other place."

(The end)
Robert Cortes Holliday's essay: His Business Is Good

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