The Beat Goes On

It was a slow night in the bookstore
so I went over to the literature section
and grabbed a copy of Celine’s
Death on the Installment Plan
and took it back to my post
at the cash register.
I hid it under the counter
because we weren’t supposed
to read on the job
and I didn’t want to get fired.
But just as I opened the book
I heard a loud banging on the front door.
I looked up and saw a disheveled man
throwing himself against it
rattling the glass panes.
“Aw crap,” I muttered,
putting the book away
and leaving my seat
to deal with the problem.
I yanked the door open
and came face to face
with what seemed to be
a broken human being.
When I reached out to restrain him,
a voice from behind me bellowed:
“Back off, Ron! That’s Gregory Corso,
the famous Beat poet!
I have a piece of his in the journal
I’m about to publish!”
“I’m so sorry,” I said sheepishly.
“I had no idea.”
The store’s owner put his arm
around Corso’s shoulder
and escorted him down the stairs
to the basement,
and I returned to Celine,
who now seemed
totally appropriate.

–Ron Kolm