Two Armed Man
Sometimes you can see a lot of grief around town when out taking pictures. And there's times when I can be riding high without a worry in the world, and then I run into one of the real old-timers who's on their last legs. Some of them could be in such pitiful shape that a $10,000 handout wouldn’t come near solving their problems. The saddest spectacle I ever saw was quite a while back. It was late one night and I was just finishing a marathon-day of walking the streets snapping pictures, and who do I bump into but old Tommy.
Tommy was one of the most wonderfully skilled photographers I saw to ever pick up a a camera. He even had himself a big-time exhibition in his day, in Italy or France or some place. Right after that exhibition he got all juiced up and had a serious beef jolt in a bar somewhere. He hit a guy on the head with his camera and it killed the man. He spent time in prison, and when he got out he had real hard times adjusting to life on the outside and he went down and down until he was nothing but a helpless drunk living like an ordinary hobo.
I hadn't seen him in years until I met him that late night. Only now Tommy had just one arm. He'd lost the arm in another beef jolt somewhere after he had an out-and-out brawl with some longshoreman and Tommy hit the fellow a shot in the teeth, only the fellow’s teeth were so hard they cut Tommy’s hand real bad. Instead of going to a doctor, he went out and got drunk and the upshot was an infection set in and they amputated his right arm, which happened to be his shooting arm.
One Armed Man
But that didn’t turn him into a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze: Tommy kept taking pictures. He learned to shoot with his left hand and earned a zillion with the proposition because all of a sudden everybody wanted to buy pictures from the one-armed man. Those roaches in the galleries snatch up a one-armed man like he was a baby. He really stuck ‘em up, except in the end, Tommy died broke. He was drinking so hard that somebody even had one of those soul-hustlers talk to him and he convinced Tommy that the juice was a loosing proposition at best. So he swore of all beverages. But just as he was starting to get re-jived, he got the shakes something awful and one night he went back to the $25-a-night scratch house where he was living and Tommy never woke up anymore.
It was a real tragedy because Tommy was an excellent photographer and deep down he was a very fine person. Tommy's trouble was he had been overcome by some tremendous fear beyond belief and he hit the juice so he wouldn’t have to confront reality. Now, I ain’t be the one telling nobody how many beverages to consume. I even like me some. But I never saw nobody do too well with too much of the juice. Not here or Siberia or Zanzibar or anywhere else.
And that’s on the square.
Fear Strikes Out