Monday, December 12, 2011

The Fools Parade

I met Downtown first.  Me and Billy the Kid.  Billy the Kid was from the East Village, Allen Street from what I understand.  There are one of maybe two addresses that could have been him, depending on his father's name or something like that.  His father was a veteran of the Civil War and his mother a washerwoman or girl.  She was just a kid too, which does not mean you are not responsible for your actions is what she found out.   The difference between a squat and an abandoned building is night and day.  I heard Blue Blazer say this before I met him.  It was his voice that I remembered and the honor stabbing.  With that slight British accent but a decidedly, well at least half American way of speaking. Then someone yelled "five-oh" which was slang for the cops were coming, which was weird because this place was paid off and sealed, though I did not know that until later. But at that moment was also the first time I saw Candy.  She stuck her head out the window and it was amazing that it all happened at once though it will have to be unraveled, the two of them, the three of us together, became the story of my life. And formed who I am.

It was at the art squat that I saw her again and learned from his stepfather the true of Blue Blazer's situation, as well his name and the notorious family that he came from and always tried to keep from the street, for his own reason that will come out later.  Anyway he hollered and pointed up and she pointed at the cops.  She walked out onto the ledge from the fire escape she was climbing toward the roof when she looked back and I swore I saw her face.  She had the face of Helen, wasn't she the one who could launch a thousand ships?  Oh yes just such a face.  Except her name was not Helen, it was Candace and we called her Candy as Will told me they always had in her family, except when she was bad.

There is no past tense.  She survived.  She ended up in a place none of us would have forecasted for her in those days.  So without a lot of introduction here is the story of that, how we all survived.  And how the ones who did not that we loved were always better than that.  And how I was the naif who followed after, with wide eyes.  They were always too good for it.  I had no idea that what I was looking for was what I was and what I had come from, the streets what my own parents moved to the suburbs to avoid.  She must have been the kind of girl as she was as a young adult that knew when she was bad and chose it, not compulsively like me or intelligently like Will, but as an act of transgression against the God that had abandoned her.
The lights flashed over the building, someone grabbed her and we all ran for cover till the coast was clear.  It was inevitable that we were going to come back because it was like a lighthouse, they had the best dope. Did I mention there was a car burning on the street?  In front of the Used Books dope-spot?  Forgive me. We can pick up there next time.


"Charlie Cake Park" mp3
by The Mekons, 1987.
available on  Honky Tonkin'

"Me and Billy the Kid" mp3
by Joe Ely, 1990.
avilable on Lord of the Highway

top photograph:  Car Fire, Lower East Side, 2002.
© Ted Barron, 2011.