Friday, February 12, 2016

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 old worn-out 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 in his nostrils were red as raw 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 about, and the window often—more often than not, wide-open in the middle of winter.
       He was a tall man and never wanted to be bothered much—he per near lived 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, so he told me, once upon a time; he had it on his built in the wall bookshelf—I seen it there, but at the end, it didn’t do him much good. But evidently, he had found sobriety at one time and it lasted a good year or so, so I heard from the grapevine.
       When drunk, 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), —in particularly, 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 the hall 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 in his hopeless topsy-turvy, doughty look, 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 per near, slam the door in my face. 
       So after a few years he got cancer, his daughter came over now and then and cleaned the apartment now and then and washed his cloths, then he ended up in the hospital—; the awful part about it was, he paid his rent those last two months from his hospital bed, never to return to his apartment, but that was all he had in life: that apartment, and that Big Book on the shelf, collecting dust, and that was all he had but the booze, and that he had no longer; and he looked the first day I saw him, just the same as the last day I saw him.
       What can one say to such a story? When you’re young you don’t know what path you’ll lead?  For him, at the end, it was trackless. No faultfinding, no hurting—for he is long dead now, this refuge of alcoholism he sought, is not a release from all misery, rather it is the transcending of misery arising from misery.  To Old Stan, I suppose it was indeed a refuge secure, the only one, and best one he could find, knew of, as a person with little and at times no affability.  In a like manner, to be just, it is hard to come by a person of nobility, not everywhere is he born.

Note: written December 25, 2010/ No: 643
Reedited and Revised, 7-20015