Old Man Stan
(—Big Bird, 2002)
Old man Stan had a face that looked coarse. He was for the most part, always clean shaven and his deep rooted eyes, sunken into those eye sockets, I’m sure never saw the bottom of his gaunt chin. His eyes were red more often than they were white, rimmed with sweat from booze, and the large holes that were his nostrils were raw as hamburger. Stan’s two room apartment on Albemarle Street, where he lived his last ten years before he died, in the late evenings you could hear him cursing and yelling and fighting with his demons, as if they were dragging him, or he was dragging them, and the window open in the middle of winter, as if to throw them out of. He was a tall man and never wanted to be bothered much—at the bar, some one-hundred feet away from his apartment, they called him Big Bird (he was all of six-foot six; thin as a string bean). He read the Alcoholics Anonymous, Big Book, he told me he had once; he had it on his shelf, but at the end it didn’t do him much good. But evidently, he had found sobriety at one time and it last a year or so, so I heard from the grapevine. You could hear him all the way down the halls and through the walls, and into the residing apartment next to his (which was my apartment at the time)—when he had those heated fits with his demons. Few people in those days saw him smile, he was seventy-two years old when he up and died of cancer. Made his last rent payment while in the hospital; the new folks that now rent the apartment next to Stan’s, sometimes, they say, you can hear old Stan still bellowing, and he’s got the T.V. on loud trying to drawn the sound of his yelling out.
I used to go over to Stan’s apartment when I lived across from him, and tell him to turn the television down, this was in the wee hours of the night, or morning, and when he’d open his door, I’d just look at what a mess he was making of trying to live with his demons in his apartment. He didn’t offer much conversation, he’d just stand and look at me and the hopeless way he muddled about, standing there trying to think of what I just said, and what to say, and he’d mumble something like: “Yaw, the television, I better turn the television down, that’s right, I’ll turn it down—sorry about that, okay!” then he’d turnabout, and pert near, slam the door in my face. So after a few years he got cancer—the awful part about it was, he paid his rent those last two months from his hospital bed, never did return to his apartment, but that was all he had in life, was that apartment, and the Big Book on the shelf, and he looked the first day I saw him, the same as the last day I saw him.
Note: written December 25, 2010