Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Quiet Song


1969 a Quiet Song
Cold. Cold moved in and locked down the town in a web of despair. The smell of the streets like a heavy blanket wrapped the cold deep into the bones. Cheap Wine and Urine the roses of the City.

This is a story of three Americans. The three impecunious street seraphs moved with a single motion. They were day labors that met at the labor hall of Hourly Helpers who daily sent men out on the job a new, paid at the end of everyday and the only place that would cash checks was a liquor store on Houston street. The store keeper would only cash a check with a purchase of course and the only thing the three could afford was Swizzle which came in two flavors pink and green and after dark ya can't tell 'em apart.

The leader was Louis Crapo (they called him La`wees) his mama was East LA Mexican and his daddy was Canadian M├ętis. Louis was a giant; everything about him was big. He was seven foot of muscle, sinew and bone.  His daddy was in and out of the joint as long as any one could remember, until he died in a shoot out with the man, cause he got caught holding. His mama was too pretty for her own good and a wild alley cat always could find a man to take care of her, but always forgot to take her kids. Louis was bounced around foster homes, until he was about fifteen when he went to live with a couple who he felt were the most wonderful people he ever met. Before the end of the first night Mary found her way to his bed and passion was sealed in flames. Because her husband Peter was such a neat guy they decided to keep it from him. Next few years was hiding around corners while acting as if everything was customary in a house constructed with a high regard for convention.  Peter took a strong interest of Louis like father and son. When Louis was eighteen went into the army, didn't even finish High School and ended up in Nam so fast he didn't even have time to change his cloths. The Surge just began in Nam and things were damn tuff. When his tour was up he called on Mary and Peter and everything was back to the same. Not Louis, when he got back he was different. Something so deep no daylight could penetrate.  In a few weeks Louis disappeared into America. When a person disappeared no one who knew them ever saw them again.

Victor (called Victory) was Armenian from Fresno. He parent escaped the Holocaust coming to America shortly after the fist War escaping the Young Turks. Victor was born to them when they were already old. Was raised to the love Armenian Nationalism and haltered for the Turks. Brilliant before he was even conscious. College was always in the cards. Because he was smart he graduated early.  Grade School held nothing for him. Wanted to go to the College called the streets of America. His Draft Board traded in his 2/S for a 1/A and his Uncle called Sam had a Job for him. Victor said no and disappeared into America.

Gabriel (called Aspen) from Idaho, college never was in the future. He had a love for keeping his head tight. No college then, but just maybe Louisville Hard Time. Because of his outside interests his draft Board said he was morally unfit, he was 4/F and free. Disappeared into America cause there wasn't anything else to do.

How the three met no one could remember. Once together they found purpose and that is how it would stay.  The city offered what they needed right then.  Spring passed into Summer into Fall and Winter was coming up. They worked for Hourly Helper in the Garment District. Lived at the end have West 34 on the Docks hid their gear every morning and the Stevedores kept an eye out. They walked everywhere never taking the subway. When work was over they walked from mid-town to Houston to cash their checks. With money and Swizzle wine they went to Washington Square to watch the nightly performance of street crazies and guerilla theater.  Living on street vendor sandwiches or pizza by the slice. They knew some guys that would secretly slip them into the Greenwich Village Hotel, located between Thompson and Macdougal, to shower. The management had said they couldn't stay there and if caught they had some really big guys with iron bars to whose job it was to change a person's mental condition. The Hotel was a former Women's Prison turned into a men's only hotel. Rooms were 4' by 8' by 7' and a man would be kept warm by the urban rats that would hunker their furry bodies next to a man to stay warm.  But, the three comrades so thoroughly offend the men in charge they were public enemy one, two and three.  Thus, taking a shower was high adventure every night. Then on Sundays they knew some of the working ladies on lower Seventh Avenue.  Some of these ladies would take mercy and give them a hot meal and help them with their laundry. They would hang around talking about the politics of the world with the ladies until the pimps would chase them off.  Life was full and everything worked out they way the Universe intended.

What was the glue that held all this together, you might ask?  "Mary", and Louis was her prophet. Her love could help the lame to walk and bring eyesight to the blind.  Louis never ran short of stories. Mary kept our three warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Each of the comrades would say his prayers to Mary and dream of Mary holding each one individually in her arms. As long as each of the three had their own personal relationship with Mary no harm would come their way. Hunger, cold, sickness or their mortality passed unnoticed. Reality is only what you make it. Mary walked with the three, talked to them and kept them from harm.

The streets carry many secrets, and in the end consume without a trace her children. The Comrades have been absorbed into the Universe and are no more. But, the name of Mary is still whispering in the wind.



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