Po Boy Views
Another Man Done Gone
Salim McGundy, aka ‘Shorty’, went out; not with a bang as he had imagined he would in his younger days but with a whimper and his last earthly thought was: “that’s it?” There was no pain except a slight feeling akin to when a younger brother punches you in the chest and then it was over. Somehow he knew that he had died. He looked down on his body which gave a spasm, a final sigh and was still. “That’s it?” he repeated to himself.
It happened in the middle of the night in his small section eight apartment in the Faubourg Marigny; he was standing in front of his refrigerator in his boxers, scratching his behind and reaching for a defrosted bean and cheese burrito and a Schlitz tall boy. They found him face down in a pool of melted ice cream with the tall boy in one hand and the other still digging in his butt. The only witnesses were Jukebox Jack who was at that time the WWOZ deejay spinning music on his early Tuesday morning show and the stuffed catfish on the dingy wall that he had named “Kitty”.
Shorty had liked his ‘getting up in the middle of the night for a beer snack’ routine; a brief wake up, and then back to nap on his single bed with the rumpled covers and infrequently washed bedclothes. Shorty didn’t clean that much: and the nicotine stained walls, bare light bulb illumination and castoff furnishings didn’t bother him much. Thrift store wardrobe, cheap beer and Drum cigarette tobacco were his M.O. and he was kinda proud of his image; he saw himself as a devil-may-care kinda guy. He loved his faded Cardinals baseball cap and high top Chuck Taylors and didn’t care who knew it. But, now he was dead, he told himself, so what the fuck.
By nature a curious person, Shorty’s spirit stuck around awhile to see just what was gonna happen next; it took him a minute wondering who that old man on the floor was before he realized that it was him. He watched the ice cream and ice cubes melting around the open refrigerator and cursed himself for not having opened, what would have been, his last beer.
He listened to the radio for a spell and heard the telephone messages coming in to his great amusement. “Shorty, it’s Frank. What the fuck is goin’ on? I get in today and the bar’s still a mess and you ain’t nowhere around! You better get your bony ass down here and clean up before Virginia gets here; you know how she is-- if you don’t show up pretty damn quick-- she’ll use your balls for bookends!”
“SHORTY! you pick up that phone RIGHT NOW!!; this is Gloria and you promised me that you’d help me turn these mattresses; Shorty? SHORTY!!! Oh what the fuck…….”
“Yo, Shorts; we goin uptown tonight or what? We can catch a ride with Jimmy and watch the pool tournament at Miss Mae’s; that blonde’s playin’, you know, the one who slides that cue stick right between’er tits? Gimme a call at the shop”.
“Uh, hello…. This message is for Shorty? Well, uh, I got your number from Frank down at the bar and he told me you might be looking to pick up some extra cash for workin’. Anyway, I got a shed that needs cleanin’ out and some stuff to take to the dump. Gimme a call at 555-8384 if you’re available this weekend.”
“ Well, I guess I’m NOT available, Sucker, and I ain’t gonna be available any time soon” Shorty said/thought from his perch on the ceiling fan. He kinda liked this weightlessness and freedom from feeling. He kinda felt….”aloof… whatever that means”. He thought that he knew what it meant and decided that IF he didn’t know what it meant then well he would just call whatever he wasn’t feeling…. “Aloof. Shit, I can call it whatever I want to; I’m dead ain’t I and the dead gets cut slack, right?
He drifted down to his chair and looked out the window. The view was to the back of the Laundromat but he didn’t care. He watched the dawns light filter in and then the noon light and night light and then he watched them again. And again. He looked up at the crack and water stained ceiling and the floor that he never had swept and thought: “what the fuck.”
He glanced around and saw his pain meds, Zippo lighter and tobacco on the counter along with the unopened mail; his disability check, some bills and junk mail addressed to ‘occupant’. He watched the light through the window passing through another day. “Shit”, he thought “this ain’t half bad; I ain’t cold, hot, hungry…nuthin’… that plate in my head and the ringing in my ears…poof! It’s kinda cool.”
He heard the banging on the door and eventually his landlady opening his door with a couple of cops; they held their noses and one cop (one that he had previous run-ins with) turned to the other and said: “Poor fuck; better call the meat wagon”, and they left. He watched his scumbag neighbor sneak in and steal his Skilsaw, boom box and guitar.
“Well, I guess that’s it for me.” Shorty mused, and wondered if this was being dead. Wasn’t he supposed to disappear or something? What about that ‘great hereafter’ he’d been hearing about?
He wandered down Frenchmen Street, pleased with his anonymity; and sat by the river and watched the ebb and flow of life the universe and everything. There he sits to this day; “Shit, If I’da known, I woulda been dead sooner”.
Shorty found peace at last.