A young man, named Alon Jr. Or, his father being a Rabbi by the same name came at the age of twenty-three years old, from Tiberias, Israel, in that summer of 1982, to pursue his studies at Colombia University, in New York City. He was scanty supplied with money in his pocket, and took lodging at a cheep hotel in Manhattan, high up on the seventh floor, a gloomy back room of an old building—more like a studio apartment next to a stairway that lead up into an attic, and which in fact, exhibited an old cast-iron fire escape in the back of the building, right outside his window. Had his father known, had he seen the environment his young son lived, it would have looked unworthy to have been the place of such a fine and decent family member—who had a fair start in life, and especially a son to a Rabbi, and which, in fact, exhibited the outcasts, the grim of the city. The young stranger, Alon Jr. who was not unstudied, in the learning of his country (neither lacking in words proper for any occasion: substantial expressions as required in meeting and maintaining acquaintances), recollected now at fifty-three years old (some thirty-years had passed), the ancestors of his family, the poets and the great thinkers, politicians, warriors, the ancients. He pictured David Ben-Gurion, Arial Sharon, King David, and Solomon, as partakers of the immortal agonies of establishing his homeland, I mean to say, his Israel— and here he was.
These reminiscences and associations, had often, too often had a tendency to dishearten Alon Jr., it always had, ever since he had arrived in
To a young man out of his normal surroundings, caused Alon to pick up with the ill-furnished apartment, in a gloomy hotel to save money, desolate he wanted friends. It was Virginia who cried out to the youth, and won his heart, a remarkable beauty of person, and he kindly endeavored to give her his breath and heart, now all these years had passed, and it still made this Rabbi’s son gloomy, just to recall it, to pull it back from its hidden chambers, and look at the bright sunshine it left. Somehow every year round the holidays, he mechanically did this, it was a cheerful moment in his life, before the drugs and the alcoholism, and pert near aids had expanded its fostering influences, cultivated his way of life, to where it became his way of life, and Virginia, she had left long ago.
And as one thing leads to another—as we all know and can attest to: a bad habit is gained in less than month, and too often, chased away only after a decade or two has come and gone, if ever; thus, he never did make it to the University, and he became old, working odd jobs. His father long dead had commended his protection to the old prophets, but he Alon Jr., never read his holy books while living in New York City. Or, not improbably, he might have once or twice, or on special occasions, but only in fragments—did he read those ancient writings of his forefathers.
Now living on the streets making gurgling sounds to the young men and women passing by, living under a cardboard box, no longer with immortal spirits, sung his song unceasingly as if it was embodied in marble, a simply song he heard his Irish friend sing, the one that slept nearby him—James, often slept nearby him:
“For they are jolly good fellows,
For they are jolly good fellows,
For they are jolly good fellows
That nobody can deny…”
As Alon awoke at 5:00 a.m., as often he did, looked out of a peephole in the cardboard box house he had build in an allay—after hearing sounds of a light conversation, a figure of a homeless dog emerged into view, and it showed itself as to be of no common breed, tall and thin, one could see its ribs, sallow in eye sight, so it appeared. It come into view, perhaps the animal was beyond its middle term of life (as Alon himself was), although having a face marked with youthful days; he made observations in regard to himself—in comparison, discovering they were seemingly inhaling the same air, occupying the same ground, nearly the same space, and I repeat, in the middle term of life.
“Here am I, my father’s son. What would he think?” he told the voice of his mind.
“Here doggie,” said a young woman, with her young man by her side, near the alleyway. And she took a fancy to the dog, by the impression she made to her young man, she wanted to keep the dog, care for the old fellow, a fair stranger indeed, a human sister to mankind, touched the dog lightly, and the dog approached her side, she most sedulously started hugging the dog, started to treat him like a chief treasure.
This somewhat shattered Alon Jr., mumbled to himself out loud: “Had I, as I am, approached this couple like the dog has so closely, my life might have had to pay a dear penalty as circumstances demand: treated harshly…they may even had called the police…” henceforth—a little melodramatic he was, yet he feared and felt he must be consigned to the sole charge of this cardboard box—until they left. And here the dog was bestowed with kisses and perfumed breath, from this fair lady, with all the tenderness of her manner, strikingly expressed on this hound, she even rubbed his eyes “Go forbid…” he said in an envious tone, or was it justified? Who’s to say?
(Say what you will but this dog seemed to possess the pair, without even one look at the cardboard box which surely they would have guessed to be a home of a homeless person, perhaps called: vagabond, who needed as much help as the dog did, for as yet it was scarcely sunrise: and no doubt, I am much among the rest: that is to say, I have so over-looked the peopled world, for fiction, and this story of course was and is inspired by non-fiction, and I can just imagine Alon peeping his snake like head and eyes with a hiss nearby that hole in the cardboard box, at the faint-hearted behavior of this couple, or perhaps to many, kindhearted. I cannot define the image of this homeless person any better than a: figure, loomed grimly in a nightmare; a victim of the times, no more than a scarecrow to onlookers, who see but dare not, or wish and do not or cannot acknowledge the brutal forces of the era on the human mind and body: whom if given a chance, might pleasing partake in a magical change, like the dog did, if only someone with denser substance would notice them.)
#897 ((April 13, 2012) (11:30 a.m.)) Inspirit in part by the homeless people of NY