Cass was the youngest and most beautiful of 5 sisters. Cass was the most beautiful girl in town. 1/2 Indian with a supple and strange body, a snake-like and fiery body with eyes to go with it. Cass was fluid moving fire. She was like a spirit stuck into a form that would not hold her. Her hair was black and long and silken and whirled about as did her body. Her spirit was either very high or very low. There was no in between for Cass. Some said she was crazy. The dull ones said that. The dull ones would never understand Cass. To the men she was simply a sex machine and they didn't care whether she was crazy or not. And Cass danced and flirted, kissed the men, but except for an instance or two, when it came time to make it with 5 of 188 Cass, Cass had somehow slipped away, eluded the men .
Her sisters accused her of misusing her beauty, of not using her mind enough, but Cass had mind and spirit; she painted, she danced, she sang, she made things of clay, and when people were hurt either in the spirit or the flesh, Cass felt a deep grieving for them. Her mind was simply different; her mind was simply not practical. Her sisters were jealous of her because she attracted their men, and they were angry because they felt she didn't make the best use of them. She had a habit of being kind to the uglier ones; the so-called handsome men revolted her- "No guts," she said, "no zap. They are riding on their perfect little earlobes and well- shaped nostrils...all surface and no insides..." She had a temper that came close to insanity, she had a temper that some call insanity. Her father had died of alchohol and her mother had run off leaving the girls alone. The girls went to a relative who placed them in a convent. The convent had been an unhappy place, more for Cass than the sisters. The girls were jealous of Cass and Cass fought most of them. She had razor marks all along her left arm from defending herself in two fights. There was also a permanent scar along the left cheek but the scar rather than lessening her beauty only seemed to highlight it. I met her at the West End Bar several nights after her release from the convent. Being youngest, she was the last of the sisters to be released. She simply came in and sat next to me. I was probably the ugliest man in town and this might have had something to do with it.
"Drink?" I asked.
"Sure, why not?"
I don't suppose there was anything unusual in our conversation that night, it was simply in the feeling Cass gave. She had chosen me and it was as simple as that. No pressure. She liked her drinks and had a great number of them. She didn't seem quite of age but they served he anyhow. Perhaps she had forged i.d., I don't know. Anyhow, each time she came back from the restroom and sat down next to me, I did feel some pride. She was not only the most beautiful woman in town but also one of the most beautiful I had ever seen. I placed my arm about her waist and kissed her once.

"Do you think I'm pretty?" she asked.
"Yes, of course, but there's something else... there's more than your looks..."
"People are always accusing me of being pretty. Do you really think I'm pretty?"
"Pretty isn't the word, it hardly does you fair."
Cass reached into her handbag. I thought she was reaching for her handkerchief. She came out with a long hatpin. Before I could stop her she had run this long hatpin through her nose, sideways, just above the nostrils. I felt disgust and horror. She looked at me and laughed, "Now do you think me pretty? What do you think now, man?" I pulled the hatpin out and held my handkerchief over the bleeding. Several people, including the 6 of 188 bartender, had seen the act. The bartender came down:
"Look," he said to Cass, "you act up again and you're out. We don't need your dramatics here."
"Oh, fuck you, man!" she said.
"Better keep her straight," the bartender said to me.
"She'll be all right," I said.
"It's my nose, I can do what I want with my nose."
"No," I said, "it hurts me."
"You mean it hurts you when I stick a pin in my nose?"
"Yes, it does, I mean it."
"All right, I won't do it again. Cheer up."
She kissed me, rather grinning through the kiss and holding the handkerchief to her nose. We left for my place at closing time. I had some beer and we sat there talking. It was then that I got the perception of her as a person full of kindness and caring. She gave herself away without knowing it. At the same time she would leap back into areas of wildness and incoherence. Schitzi. A beautiful and spiritual schitzi. Perhaps some man, something, would ruin her forever. I hoped that it wouldn't be me. We went to bed and after I turned out the lights Cass asked me,

"When do you want it? Now or in the morning?"
"In the morning," I said and turned my back.


Writer: Charles Bukowski

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