I really want to get this going....

Each day's listing is an excerpted edit from my work. These are numbered and sub-headed for ease of read and isolation from full body of continued text. Each small excerpt is a single-themed piece culled from a much larger whole. Please follow the heading numbers down to #1, or click on 'archive'. The highest numbers are most recently posted, obviously. If so interested, for follow-up, you may contact via e-mail shown - perhaps for discussion or annotation needed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


235. THE MAN WITH THREE HANDS (the Harry Sled story, all true words) nyc 1967:

The man with the three hands was plying his horse and talking to himself as he came up alongside the Pottage O’Sire – a small Belgian Restaurant on 18th Street (I always wondered if they meant ‘Cottage’ but they never changed it so I guess they knew best) and the people inside I noticed just barely looked up as he came by and tied his horse to the little rail inside and walked where he stayed about 10 minutes – I figured having a beer since I could see him at the bar – and then came right back out and left the same we he’d arrived : all the same to a stranger like that : he’d been around for a long time and was treated nicely in the local area and he had one of the last few remaining non-police function horses around (which he kept in a shed behind a property on 23rd) and this was still odd and curious then (1966) as later – most people had long ago given up on horses - this guy’s name was Harry Sled and he pronounced it ‘Slayd’ and the reason he was called the man with three hands was for how adept he was at handling objects - cards hammers bits drills and all the rest - it was just some character summation in a few words that stuck and I’d gotten to know him only ever so much from spending evenings often at the lantern and bench nearby – there were a few restaurants close in which often throw out some major food as late-night trash – and this Sled guy had the foulest mouth I’d heard in a long while too (had heard lots of that however lofts high and low and filled with characters each) he’d talk down a-n-y female that passed by no matter what ‘there’s a ton of good pussy meat there I bet she likes eatin’ the pole I’d rather bend her over twice than get paid good money for nothing if she had a sister I’d play a double-header I bet she’s a swell screamer’ and most of the rest went just like that - some girls liked it all and smiled torturously back while others blanched but he never cared and it seemed neither really did they and he and I we smoked many a disdainful cigarette together outside the local places often many a night very late watching lights go on and then out again too watching traffic dwindle on the side streets to nothing at all hearing no noises after the revelers had gone (there’s no silence I found like a true city silence for those two and a half or maybe three hours in the depths of night that it occurs before it all begins starting up again and that silence can bring many a man a well-posted solace and a spiritual ken for goodness and mirth) and the slim notations of the street were black and dark and desolate too : (Harry sometimes fell asleep and I watched him and the horse too if it was around though it wasn’t often always present) : but the real pleasure came from picking up each day and just starting anew with another one and somehow Harry and I we understood that kind of stuff - he’d eat from a pail of slop if he could but most often the freshest dumpings were in the freshest dumpsters and we’d watch the throwouts get placed and then just fight the rats if we had to so as to grab what we could - I never was a gourmet mind you but I could always tell a good veal scallopine or some other fine mix of meats and sauces when they were present and one day I said to Harry ‘Harry what is it you think we’ll be doing if we keep doing this?’ and he laughed and said ‘well for sure we won’t be starving but I have a hunch that before long something will come up and we’ll both then be on our ways - wherever and where to I can’t really say’ and that was that as I never followed up on that rather sad-sounding statement which I actually found of dubious import but in a way he was sort of right because my the next December I was gone – never really knowing what happened with him but he’s gone now too as I see these years later and there’s really no one to ask about him because they’re all gone too and I’ve never rightly seen a Harry Sled marker nowhere about and the only thing there now is some stupid big back wall of a Barnes & Noble and a Blue Smoke restaurant or something around there too - made up of new people entirely and no one who’d know anything about nothing I’d care to ask : it’s like that sometimes as the past runs away or gets run away with and we have nothing more or less left with from it with which to play or sing about or even ply our trade as criers and memorializers of the past – most people just remain silent and scoff at events and effects if they weren’t there themselves so REALLY really stories have no or little value you see.
You’d maybe be wondering what I saw in people like Sled – it was always hard to say but I met lots of characters like him and have written of them often (Tony Main for example) and each one of them remains unique and personally infracted in my memory of all those old days of carnage and mayhem loss and deprivation – maybe that’s what adds to the glamour or what I’m seeing anyway : but no matter because I had this knack of just seemingly going up to someone or near to where they’d be and starting from a square 1 introduction from nothing just get things going ‘awright’ as they say - oftentimes most people treat other people not exactly like themselves as if they’ve got the plague but for me it was the other way around – I hated the norm and the common run-of-the-hill hidebound quacker on the way to something with business attire and that obscure and forlorn look of duty and honor and code and belief for none of that mattered to me and if I’d wanted that I could have long ago become a schoolteacher-in-preparation instead of a hot-stove philosopher of rancid warm dirt (the kind of stuff you get from radiant heating OFF other matter) – a kind of reflected matter an alteration of light and changing of sounds through echo and resonance – and that was the organ music of my own church so Sled fit into that fine – it started with the horse (‘what in the world are you doing on 17th street leading a horse?’) and went from there - he’d been jailed in his younger days once had a wife and a girlfriend knew a few things about commerce but mostly liked working outdoors on concrete and mortar and had spent a few long years in the construction business back before it was run by percentages and design firms - he’d say ‘there once was a time when a simple cinder-block and wood box was enough for people and that’s a lot of what I made – many of them still around – look at the parking garage sheds and food stands and stuff you see – many of them I was involved in and there was a time when most of the stables and horse-sheds at some point in the 20’s and 30’s were all changing over to automobile uses – it was a good line of work but of course now it’s over and here I am – Drayer here was once my carry-horse – we’d pull lumber-wagons and block-drags together along these very streets back in the old dark heyday of its earlier constructions – everything was by hand my boy and that took work – nowadays I’ve heard it said the word is ‘there’s only one thing we do by hand on this job – and that’s jerk-off’ and that hell well yeah pretty much sums it up too’ and if he did have a way with words I guess it all was his own way - there was compromising or dealing with other people who’d slow him down (even though there was nothing fast nor swift about him) and he told me once how there was a time way back when money was really short he took a job with the WPA people – government stuff – building the roadway and blasting the rocks up along the Palisades above Fort Lee when they were blasting the waterfronts there and those huge walls of rock had to be moved back to provide frontage and flatland for the road and beachfront areas being constructed - for a while all that section acted as the lungs and breath of the Hudson waterfront with NYC stretched out all along far below (I’d been there myself many times and had seen the work as it had been done - very nicely - stretches of rock beach and boat-slips and often hordes of ferry-boated people from the upper reaches of crowded Manhattan who’d come across for a day of frolic on the Jersey riverside and up until the end of the 1960’s there was also right there some huge famous nightclub dining room ballroom place high above the bluffs by the bridge which hosted many a famed star and thousands of people – using both the grand indoors and the wonderful starlit areas outside.


Post a Comment

<< Home