Screaming man

Woke at 4 or 5 am. On a far tier a man yelling, muffled, echoing. Concentrated to make out the words, read the emotion.


(Sweet Jesus)

— Help!

A scream, a yell, a bellow. All three.

A moment in ice.

Running boots, keys in doors, doors sliding shut. No other voices. Only one man’s cry. What does he keep yelling after the doors slammed? Not “help!” A lament.

This morning I asked the coffee wagon man what happened.

- I dunno. I dunno.


Bad trip. Looked up from a sci-fi novel & didn’t know where I was. Back of my head whirling, couldn’t move, too scared, then some dude singing a Johnny Cash song on TV, The Green Green Grass of Home, got me up walking. Knew the only way out was talk, picked a guy who reminded me of Hank, right choice: kid from Chicago busted for panhandling. Started to climb out listening to him rap about his life on speed. Two black guys came over to borrow tobacco. Mentioned (first time) who I was. Right on. Sure they knew Charlie Garry - yeah! One had the Panther book on Huey Newton. We're on a clenched fist basis. Out and over.



Saw Screaming Man. In the lockup cell, hands wrapped around the bars, his throat hoarse, moaning without words, head cocked listening to remote music. 5 guys in the corridor in front of him like a black shroud.

— He just cracked. He cracked.

They nodded What can you do.

The kid in cowboy boots. Who watched me read.